417. Finding Meaningful, Creative Careers
Disillusioned with college and with a mediocre grade point average, Mac was about to drop out after his sophomore year. Although he barely knew his academic advisor, he decided to have a talk with him. “He was a nice enough guy,” Mac recalls. “He probably doesn’t remember that conversation, but for me it was life changing.”
Mac Prichard is the publisher of Mac’s List, an online community for people looking for rewarding, creative, and meaningful work. More than 80,000 people a month visit the site, which includes a job board, as well as a blog and a book about the nuts and bolts of job hunting and career management. Mac also hosts a weekly podcast, “Find Your Dream Job.”
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“My dad signed me up for a newspaper route when I was nine years old. I was a carrier for the Des Moines Register in Iowa when I was in fifth grade. It was a great first job because I had to get up every day, rain or shine, snow or ice, and get the papers delivered by a certain time. Then, I went to school. Once a week, I had to collect the money from my subscribers, so, every Thursday and Friday night I went out knocking on doors, asking people for money. That is a great preparation for any career! The habits I learned, both in that job and from my parents, were fundamental to my successes later in life.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
Facing his liabilities head-on and enlisting help in presenting his strengths, Mac got into the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. On paper, his less-than-stellar grade point average, and a lingering Incomplete course that caused a six-year delay in earning his bachelor’s degree could well have screened him out of the elite school. Mac mounted a campaign, contacting a dozen or so graduates of the Kennedy School—some of whom he knew, others who were referred by others—to enlist support and advice to win over the admissions committee. He emphasized his job experiences, which included work with human rights advocacy groups, organizing fact-finding trips to Latin America for members of Congress, and working on U.S. Senate campaigns. “Those same principles I used to get into Harvard have served me well throughout my career.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“When I was in college, I knew I wanted to do three things: 1) write; 2) work on election campaigns; and 3) advocate for human rights. In my career, I’ve been able to do all those things. When I’ve gotten the jobs I loved the best, it’s been because they entailed two or three of the areas that interested me. I went out and explored those opportunities, talked to people who were doing that kind of work, and found out whether it was a good fit for me, or not. Simply answering job postings alone rarely led me to a job I got excited about.”
Steps to Success from Mac Prichard
1. Use every opportunity to build your lasting network. Build relationships, not just contacts.
2. Recognize it’s natural to investigate your various career and personal interests. You’ll be richer for it.
3. There is not just one passion or interest that defines us. Each of us has many.
4. Your career—and your life—does not flow in a 45-degree angle. You will have peaks and valleys. Recognize none of them will last forever.
On His Bookshelf
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, by Robert A. Caro
It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy, by D. Michael Abrashoff
Connecting With Mac Prichard
Facebook : www.facebook.com/macprichard
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