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Jack Arnold's Career Advice

This morning a friend wrote me an email indicating he was tired of his job and looking for something new. The interesting part of the note (besides the odd decision to ask me for advice on the matter) was when he mentioned that he realized that it had been quite some time (years!) since he had actually been excited to go to work. That's not good.

Me, being a good friend, advised him to do what I typically do when confronted with an important, complicated, perplexing and perhaps dizzying question about my future: solicit the advice of an 80's sitcom dad. In today's episode, we look to Jack Arnold, father of Kevin Arnold on the Wonder Years. In one particular episode, it was a take your child to work day at Jack's office, so, naturally, Jack took Kevin. Kevin dutifully followed his dad around the office, watching him toil away. Towards the end of the day, Jack and Kevin had this poignant exchange (or something to his effect):

Kevin: So, Dad, when is it you decided that you wanted to be an assistant distribution manager when you grew up?

Dad: (pauses to reflect for a moment then says with a bit of surprise) I don't know, it just sort of happened that way.

And in the end isn't that how it works for most of us? I mean sure, there are a few folks who dream of becoming an astronaut since their childhood and actually end up achieving those dreams. But for most of us you life sort of unfolds with less than a direct vision. Life and the choices we make are all about trial and error. You try to set some overall goals and approach them strategically, all the while weighing the endless set of variables (family, friends, money, etc.) that seem to come and go during the process. But life really is a nothing ventured, nothing gained process.

So my advice to my friend: I don't know the right career for you. You probably don't either. If you don't like the one you're in now, try something else. You're smart, personable, ambitious - lots of opportunities out there. Don't wait around for "exact" fit, because there is no such thing. Try something new and see where it takes you.

And in the meantime, if you meet a Winnie Cooper, act quickly.


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Comments (2)


The Wonder Years?! Haven't thought about that show in ages. I like the analogy, honey, and I loved the show. Scary thing is that most kids on MySpace wouldn't get the reference. Talk about a generation gap. I'm only 32, though! Am I already on the old side of the gap??


Not sure which is more troubling to me . . . Mike giving out career advice . . . or Kelly calling Mike "Honey" . . .

Taking them in order, I would apply the "even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while" philosophy. So, "friend of Mike", if you have no obligations (kids, mortgage, multiple car payments, etc.), knock yourself out. Quit your job, sell your worldly possessions and throw it all down on Black (or Red) in Vegas. Who knows, you just might end up with enough to start a website.

As for #2, I suppose the honeymoon remains in full effect. Either that, or Mikey got a new pair of Odor Eaters for his shoes.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 21, 2007 11:58 AM.

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