Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A successful career is built incrementally

I saw an article last week in the USA Today about the lessons various CEOs learned from their summer jobs.  But according to stats, fewer teens are working in the summers.  

Last July, a record low 50% of 16-to-19-year-olds worked or sought jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says, down from 72% in July 1978. Outplacement consultant Challenger Gray & Christmas estimates 1.5 million 16-to-19-year-olds will be hired this summer, down from 2 million in 1999.

That's too bad because, as the article points out, summer jobs -- from mowing lawns to stocking shelves at the neighborhood supermarket to life-guarding at the pool -- are building blocks.  Said one CEO:  "A successful career is built incrementally, one step at a time."

In college, I worked as a summer intern for the San Diego Padres, doing odd jobs.  Right out of school, I sold tickets for the LA Clippers while working part-time for Barry Hecker, the team's director of scouting.  Keep in mind that the Clips were 12-70 in 1987.  Talk about a tough sell...

But it taught me two things:  First, I couldn't spend my life behind a desk.  I wanted to coach.  Secondly, it taught me something about salesmanship and persistence.