What Do I Do When It’s Time To Grow Up and Take Charge of My Career and Personal Life?

Written by: James R. Weiss

Christopher was 21 when he graduated from one of the local branches of the CUNY. His total average was 2.8. He majored in business administration with a minor in management. During his last semester he completed a six month internship at a major bank in Manhattan and continued working at his part time job as a cashier at Target.

Two years after graduation Chris is still living at home and working at the same part time job and waiting to take the next civil service exam for a position with the NYC Department of Sanitation. Note: In February 2016 over 70,000 young men and women applied to take this exam. Unfortunately there are only 500 openings.

Christopher’s story is far from unique. Thousands of other recent college grads have also completed one or more internships at high profile companies and cannot find professional employment. Sure, it would be easy to blame the down-turn in the economy, but that is only part of the dilemma. On the other hand, many of my former students and clients have received job offers in their field directly after graduation.  Was there good fortune attributed to “blind luck” or were there some other factors to consider?  We will soon be taking a closer look at why these  men and women were able to quickly establish themselves in their careers while many young adults like Christopher are still working at their old part-time jobs and living at home with their parents.

Before you can remove the roadblocks that are keeping you from reaching your professional and personal goals you must first examine some of the reasons why you and many otherwise bright, articulate and well educated young adults are still stuck in limbo.

To help you receive the maximum benefit from this article I have divided it into two sections. Section I addresses some of the reasons you are having a difficult time making the transition from student to career professional. Using my experience as an intuitive counselor/personal life coach and college professor I will be addressing questions such as: What’s really holding me back? How can I break my self-defeating habits?  What do I do with the rest of my life (it may not be what you started out to do)?

The suggestions presented in Section II will do absolutely nothing for you unless you are truly ready for change. As you already know there is no magic cure or short cuts; not unless your Uncle Bob is the CEO of some major corporation.


 Section I

What’s Holding You Back?


Today more than ever, a large segment of young adults (21-30) do not feel the urgency to enter the adult work force or change their current life style for that matter. Several of these young scholars have told me that “I’m in no rush to grow up and become saddled with responsibilities, especially since my parents do not mind supporting me and paying my student loans.”

Sure they have their own “tight little support system” in place, for the most part this is giving them a false sense of security and preventing them from entering the next stage of their life. Many have moved out of their parent’s home upon graduation only to return when they hit their first major obstacle.

Here are some of the reasons why bright young men and women are currently having a difficult time taking charge of their career and personal life:

Fear of Failure

Low self-esteem. What if I’m not smart enough to handle a career in accounting? What if I was accepted a job and they fired me? I don’t know if I can handle working eight or ten hours a day. Living a sheltered life since childhood tends to shield many of these young adults from the harsh realities of the business world.

How many times have you or someone close to you heard the expression: “You shouldn’t have to suffer like I did.” Someone should tell these well-meaning parents that character and maturity are also forged by frustration and disappointment.  Today both large and small companies are reporting that many of their recent graduates are finding it difficult to cope with the stress and tension that comes with working in a corporate environment. Many of the Fortune 500 Companies have gone so far as to hire counselors to help their young employees fit in and adapt to corporate culture.

Your College Education Has Not Sufficiently Prepared You For A Career

Your college major has not prepared you for a career. Anthropology, sociology, history or even English are great majors, but unless you are willing spend another three to five years locked away doing graduate training you will find it difficult obtaining a job in Corporate America. Many of my former students have contacted me for references and guidance when they realize that they must return to school for additional training so they can begin a career in teaching or in the corporate sector.

Student Loans and Low Paying Jobs

Today more than 60% of all college graduated are repaying student loans. This is a staggering amount of money to pay back especially for a recent college grad who is just starting out. Some of these college loans will take twenty to twenty five years to pay off. If this is not bad enough corporate salaries are not keeping pace with the current rate of inflation. This means that although the new graduate has a job he or she has the option of living on their own or defaulting on their student loan. If this sounds like a vicious cycle it is.


Peter Pan Is Alive and Well

A recent article in Psychology Today stated that “What we are now creating amounts to the Childish States of America. If our national symbol was to be revised it would be replaced with a Teletubby”. The article continues by stating: “college kids are becoming over cushioned infants living within their own magic circle.”

At one large northeastern university 2500 students recently signed a petition requesting that all grades below {C} be abolished so that every student could at least be average. At the same university and several others in the area students are beginning to demand the option of having chat sessions instead of submitting well researched papers.”

Composition scholar and college professor Peter Elboe told an Atlanta conference that “the grammar we learn by the age of four is now considered good enough. Communication has been redefined as performances involving the body, images, songs, hip-hop clothing and everything but the written word as we traditionally understand it.”

To help accommodate the thousands of recent college grads that are still living at home with their parents Obama Care ruled that “insurers must allow parents to carry their adult children until they are 26.”This is an age when previous generations of young adults were expected to be well into their careers.

The Problem With The Millennials (19-26)

  • Last year a twenty-five year old female junior accountant employed by a large Manhattan advertising firm was rightly fired for whining about her low salary on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • A corporate recruiter had this to say about the “army” of young college grads who have been turning to him for jobs: “For the most part this is a smug pack of narcissistic kids who just don’t just ignore the past, they also hate anyone and everything that came before them”.
  • Quite recently a young financial analysis was fired by his immediate supervisor when he told him he was taking two days off to help his friend build a tree house at his vacation home in the Hamptons.
  • Two of Bernie Sander’s supporters recently lost their positions after posting the following remark on their Facebook pages: “I will not like you or speak to you if you vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump”.
  • A recent article in the New York Times stated that “Generation Y is the first group to be defined in terms of entitlement, dependency and nonstop complaining.”
  • Generation Y employers are saying that “their brand rarely extends beyond a screen, Twitter, and UTube.” The quote continues by adding “when you meet and interview them they are never as clever, attractive, witty or entrepreneurial as they seem on Facebook. Many of these same people are the life of the party online, but quite dull in person.”


Section II

How To Take Charge of Your Professional Life Now

Some of the suggestions in this section are almost too obvious to mention, but as you all know by now we sometimes tend to overlook the obvious. Please take your time digesting and applying the strategies and common sense suggestions I have included in this section, and please feel free to contact me if you need help applying any of this material to your current situation or if you wish to share your success with the rest of my reading audience.


Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

In many cases the first people to turn to for help are the members of your immediate and extended family. Can any of you family or family friends help you defray the cost of additional training or an advanced degree? Perhaps you have a “Dutch Uncle” who has connections in the  corporate world? Hey, you’ll never know unless you ask.

If this is not possible you can always turn to a variety of city, state and federal agencies for career and personal guidance. There are also dozens of career and professional search firms in your area that can help place you in the right career, but some of these private agencies can be quite pricy.


Volunteer Your Services

If your career is currently at a stand-still it’s time to take action. One of the most effective ways to do this is to volunteer your services. Yes, I said volunteer. If you are a would-be account or financial analyst volunteer to spend eight to ten hours a week at one of the local financial concerns in your area. Sooner or later one of the companies you are giving free time to will ask you to begin working as a salaried employee. If this is not the case you are still gaining valuable experience in your field and the next person to interview you for a job will notice how serious you are about entering your chosen profession. As I am writing this article several of my former students are working as volunteers in their chosen field.


Return To School For Additional Training

No matter how educated you are there is always room for another degree or an advanced certificate. Education is a life-long process that lets your present and future employers know that you are serious about advancing the knowledge in your field. You must never forget that today’s bachelor’s degree is yesterday’s high school diploma.


Develop New People Skills

Get use to the fact that your success in your chosen profession as well as your personal life will depend on your people skills. All things being equal people will hire you and do business with you if they like your warm smile, polite conversation and warm hand shake. These assets are just as important as your formal training; that is unless you wish to work for the Foreign Legion or some terrorist organization.

As stated in one of my recent articles on charisma, (you can download this article free of charge at Jimweiss.net), you are at a party or business meeting when another person walks into the room.  You and the other people present notice that there is something different about this person. He or she is animated and as if by magic the entire room comes alive and he is immediately the center of attraction. There is something different about this guy, but you can’t exactly put your finger on it. After watching him interact with the other people in the room you realize that he is very friendly, out-going and most of all is has mastered the fine art of listening to other people.

During one of my recent coaching sessions my client voiced his strongest fear. “Jim, I’m not out-going. I’m afraid people won’t like me. I often feel intimidated. It’s as if I don’t fit in. How can I fix this? Bob’s feeling of self-conscious is much more wide-spread than you would imagine, especially since he and many others like him are highly educated men and women. My advice to Bob and to any of you who are not comfortable with interacting in groups is to enroll in a public speaking course or join a fraternal or social group where you will have the opportunity to develop new “people skills” in a warm caring atmosphere.


It’s Time To Create Your Own One-Of A Kind Brand

Like it or not you are a brand just like any other product on the market. In all likelihood your parents, extended family and the schools you attended were greatly responsible for creating your current brand. Now for the bad news. Most of the components of this brand no longer make it. The best way to begin rebranding yourself is to decide what qualities and characteristics you want to include in the new adult/professional version of your brand.

As you add new positive characteristics to your upgraded adult/professional brand I suggest you include some of the mannerisms and positive personality traits from people you admire and respect. This could be anyone from one of your relatives to a former teacher or employer. Realize that creating your own one of a kind brand will continue to evolve throughout your life. Never forget that your brand must stand for something important. You can well imagine what happened to several of my former students who were using lovable characters such as Tony Soprano as role models.


Set Your Career Goals Then Begin Working On Them

Most people set goals, but unfortunately a large majority of these same people give up in frustration, lose interest in the project or more importantly they do not have a detailed plan that can help them achieve their goal. Of course they become frustrated which makes it more difficult when they try to reach another one of their goals.  Trying to lose weight or quit smoking are prime examples of “the failure to reach goal syndrome”

While a graduate student at Fordham I presented a lecture on a new goal setting strategy that was used by NASA to reach the moon. As you can well imagine the moon shot required the coordination of dozens of agencies working together to reach the same goal at the same time. P. E. R. T. which stands for program evaluation and review technique was successfully employed to prepare, and evaluate the plausibility of the world changing project. The same goal setting sequence has already been used by many of my clients to reach their goal, whether it be to secure their first professional job or to start their own business.

Here a plan used b one of my clients to help her secure a position in marketing:

Goal: To obtain an entry level position in marketing with a large international firm.  

Step I  Selected the companies that she wanted to send her resume and cover letter to. To help facilitate this all important step Emily rented (for one time use) a professionally designed mailing list that included all of the major marketing firms in the tri-state area.

Step II  Developed a professional resume, cover letter and dossier to be send to each of the companies on her list.

Step III  Prepared for the all-important interview. Emily and I spent more than ten hours preparing this step of her job search. We concentrated on every aspect of the interview from the moment she entered the building until the conclusion of the interview. Remember that over 30% percent of all interviews are over during the first two minutes of the interview.

Step IV  Preparing for the second and third interviews and learning how to negotiate salary and benefits package.

Step V Accepting the right position. 


A Few Final Suggestions:

Stop blaming everyone else. This includes your family, teachers, your employer who insists that you work 8-10 hours a day to meet dead-lines. Do not expect your employer to make your life better. This is your job…not his.

Never forget that the world does not think the way you do. If you want to be successful in your professional and personal life then you must begin mixing with people from divergent backgrounds.  Why not volunteer your time to help others in need of help? Read about people and places you have no knowledge of. Become involved in a political or social organization.

There is no free lunch. Finding a job and keeping it is no easy matter.


If you have any questions about the information in this article or if you need guidance with your search for a new career please do not hesitate to contact me