I have the opportunity to speak to many groups throughout the year. One of my favorite audiences are students at the university level, our future business leaders.
I have spoken to thousands of students preparing to enter the corporate world. The topics always vary. The subjects I speak about include how to grow a new career, expectations of the corporate environment, along with other tips for how to succeed.
One subject I always find of great interest to these students, which elicits the most questions and comments, is when I tell my personal career story. These students want to hear the decisions that shaped my career choices. They want to understand the struggles I faced. They are curious about successes I have had and the failures I experienced. When telling my personal career story, I always notice the audience is truly tuned in.
All of us can relate to personal stories. When I was a student, I was always drawn to speakers who talked about their journeys. I enjoyed hearing from leaders who had pursued their dreams and reached a level of success. Their stories gave me encouragement. I believed if they had succeeded, I could as well.
When I interview young people who want to join our company, I ask about their personal career stories. I want to know why they choose their profession. I want to understand the challenges they faced, and how they overcame those challenges. I have found I learn the most about job candidates , and whether they will be a good fit for our company, by hearing their own stories.
As you move through your career, it is important to remember you are writing your own personal career story. It is written through your work and career experiences. It is shaped by the people you encounter and the relationships you build. Your story is a result of decisions, personal commitments, ethics, integrity and your will to succeed and accomplish.
Just as an author develops the characters in a book, we all have a level of control over the creation of our career story. The greatest personal career stories are those shaped and crafted by its owner. I highly encourage everyone to consider their story as they maneuver through their career. As you make decisions, take risks and develop skills and talents, be aware that these are the elements that will shape your story in the future.
You should then prepare to share your personal career story with others. It is uniquely yours. Maintain truth and highlight the positive without overlooking the negative. Discuss failures to demonstrate what you learned. Embrace challenges and how they were overcome. Be proud of the successes. Others can and will learn from your personal career story, so be open to sharing.
It has been more than 30 years since I graduated from college. However, I continue to write my own personal career story. Every day I add a new page. My hope is many more chapters will be written over the next few years as I seek new opportunities, grow as an individual, and achieve new goals. Then I look forward to sharing it with others, in the hope they will benefit from what I have experienced and learned. This continues to make my work, and life, an exciting journey.
If you knew you were going to be telling a group of young people your personal career story in a few years, what would you want it to sound like? What would you hope to share, and what would excite you to talk about? These questions will lead to the development of your own personal career story.
Brian T. King is the founder and owner of multiple firms encompassing design, construction, real estate, and manufacturing, and currently president of the integrated Design-Build firm A M King. Brian shares his passion for mentoring young professionals, rising managers and entrepreneurs at speaking engagements around the country, on podcasts and via his blog.