Apples or Oranges? Choose both for a Creative Career. "If I were 22" (and a VERY old photo!) on @LinkedIn: http://urx.nu/8zAc
When I finished my degree, there were two traditional career options: academia or policy. Both struck me as funny choices at age 24. The idea of teaching before I had acquired any personal experience felt, well, backwards. Policy struck me as problematic ― I was always fixated on political analysis rather than politicking. ‘What are the implications of Policy X?' That question fascinates me. ‘What should we do and say in order to win?’ Not so much.
So I had a Ph.D., I had the passion and the expertise, without any thoughtful plan or clear path. What did I do? I came to New York, where I thought I’d go to Wall Street for some practical experience on how business works. But the private sector didn’t really hire political scientists back in 1998. After a year of meetings and no jobs, I asked one of my contacts, "If I can’t assess the impact of political risk on business in your company, would you at least become a client if I started my own shop?"
They said yes. I got to work.
I had my core passion. The rest was about adaptation on the fly. That has proven just as true growing my company over the last 15 years as it was starting it in the first place.
One lesson from my experience: find a useful connection between two skills that not everyone else has. For me it was political science and the private sector, two fields that have become increasingly intertwined over the years, especially after the financial crisis.
What are your two (or more) skillsets? Maybe it’s climate and financial markets. Fashion and technology. Drama and management consulting. Hotels and psychology. Sociology and consumer behavior. Sports and international relations. A culinary expertise, a multicultural background, and a knack for statistics.
Find your apple and your orange, then determine if there’s an existing niche where they overlap ― and if there isn’t, whether it could be lucrative to build out that space. And remember it’s much easier to create a career around your passions when you’ve been practically trained.
View the uncertainty in global politics, the uncertainty in your life right now, as not just risk, but opportunity. Find the place where your distinct skills meet ― and determine how to make that intersection point business-relevant in a fast-changing world. Make yourself resilient to the shocks; better yet, learn how to grow from them.