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Career Lessons from Presidential Campaign

career lessonsI wrote this list of career lessons from President Barack Obama’s Campaign after the 2008 election. No surprise that after this victory they still make sense! I added #31.   

1. Set personal goals!

2. Stay away from those who say “You Can’t” when you know you can. This is a major career lesson to learn.  You are always going to meet naysayers.

3. Plan and prepare for the long haul. The race is not always for the swift.

4. To land a really meaningful job, prepare for a really tough interview.

5. Keep improving through the job search and beyond; don’t believe you know enough.

6. Develop a personal board of career advisors for support.  Include family members.

7. Surround yourself with a diverse group of people with diverse thoughts who will be honest with you.

8. Develop a backbone. Even successful careers can have disappointments.  You have to be willing to get up when all your career plans go awry!  This is one career lesson I had to learn.

9. Think around, outside and under the box. The way forward may not necessarily be clear or straight ahead.

10. Don’t expect your career path to be logical to others.  YOU should know where you are going.

11. Don’t burn your bridges behind you. You may need someone to vouch for you eventually.

12. Be mindful of what your associations can say about who you are.

13. You don’t need to have all the experience in the job description to apply.

14. Job descriptions get rewritten all the time.  One event can change your life!

15. Be open to the fact that you might be underestimated.

16. Some people will like you for the job you do and some will not. Learn early that you can’t please everyone.

17. Some will laugh behind your back when they find out you are applying for a certain job.

18. The real work begins after you land the job.

19. Know your competition and do not underestimate them.

20. Think transferable skills. eg. What skills did I develop as a community organizer or PTA President that could be valuable when changing careers?

21. You may have to say things during an interview just to impress your future boss.  It’s ok.

22. You have to build consensus to move ideas forward.

23. Keep track of your accomplishments; no one else is obligated to do that for you.

24. You may find people want to hang around you, just because you are successful – not because they care.

25. Education and training mean something. Use your mind to solve problems even when people try to make you think you’re really not that smart. You know better!

26. Hard work and discipline pays off eventually.

27. It is not a shame to strategically plan your career. Be as ambitious as you want to be.

28. Many people are not working in their college majors; You can be President regardless of your college major.

29. The more people who support you and your ideas, the more successful you will be.

30. You are always preparing for your next career opportunity, regardless of what you are doing.

31. People need to know that they will “get tired of seeing your face, since they can’t get you out of the race.”  Loose quotation from Bob Marley’s song “Bad Card”

Did I miss anything? I am sure I did!


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