Best Career Advice: Ask Yourself This Question

“Do you want a JOB or do you want a career?”

I’ll never forget the day, some eight or nine years ago in Los Angeles, when I was meeting up with a professional mentor of mine who worked for The Hollywood Reporter in Digital Marketing and she asked me that question. “Do you want a JOB or do you want a CAREER?” I had been a project manager for a Direct Response Digital Advertising Agency. I’d pretty much tried my hand at a couple of different roles at the company: blogger, marketing coordinator and now, project manager. But I wasn’t happy there.

There were a lot of office politics, I’d hit an earnings plateau and I was inspired to go out on my own. My mentor and I were working together to build my online marketing portfolio and personal brand. I had finally decided I was going to GO FOR IT and then, as I sent out my logo and branding to friends and family for validation of my decision, DOUBT KICKED IN.

I panicked at the idea of trying to earn a living on my own as a self-employed person. A relative of mine who was trying to be supportive told me my logo–a drawing of my initials JM–looked like a venus fly trap. I can laugh about it now but I was mortified and crushed back then. (It wouldn’t be the first time I’d hear people’s honest opinions but it was the last time I gave them any weight). Then, a job had opened up for a women’s networking group I was VERY active in, the very group that paired me with my mentor. And I thought, “hey, I could do this instead…this is a sign.”

When I shared the news with my mentor–a woman who had previously worked for MTV right out college, was working for Hollywood Reporter at the time and now she works for Apple–she gave me a strong look, took a deep breath and said, “Do you want a JOB or do you want a career?”

She must have seen the look of confusion on my face because then she clarified, “Your career has to do with the long term. A plan, a vision. What do you want to be known as 15 years from now? What do you want to be an EXPERT in? A job is often something we just take for the time being to get by. Planning for your CAREER is often more intentional and deliberate.

It was that very question and my own answers that changed the trajectory of my career in an instant. In all my years of taking classes and working hard, THE BEST CAREER ADVICE I HEARD came in the form on this question.

Looking back on my resume, I had always taken JOBS. I studied Music Business at The University of Miami. I went to work in radio promotions part-time for Clear Channel. I completely pivoted and ended up working for an HR/Payroll company in Business Development. Then I moved out to LA and landed another job marketing commercial real estate properties which I realized was a lateral move and lead me to freelancing as a Digital Marketing consultant/ghost writer for beauty brands and holistic doctors before finally working for the Direct Response Agency. Obviously paying my bills was a driving force behind each choice as was the fact these opportunities just seemed to come along. Responsible? Yes! Best way to land my dream job in a competitive job market? NO.

Had I applied for and taken the job at the Women’s Networking Group, I would be making another lateral move and I’d still be at an earnings plateau although I’d be making an impact. I decided that despite my fears and the security this JOB offered, I DID want to work for myself.

I also clarified that I had been attending a lot of panels and hearing experts speak and teach. I wanted to be ONE of those experts. As I write this now several years later, it brings tears to my eyes because I AM one of them! I teach Digital Marketing (and have for the past two, almost three years) for General Assembly in Los Angeles, I have spoken on MANY a panel and have even written for, HuffingtonPost and now I share my advice on my own blog.

That question, “Do you want a JOB or do you want a CAREER” became the driving force behind every choice I have made since that fateful day and now I want to share it with you. Are you taking on a series of JOBS without a long-term career in mind? What DO you want your long term career to be? And how can you pivot towards it ASAP?

Speaking of career advice, these next few weeks on my own blog, I will be rolling out a series called “Diary Of A Digital Marketer.”

This series is about helping YOU finally leave behind the job hopping and align with your TRUE career path. This series is about providing the best career advice others have heard to help you on your quest for #DreamJob status.

I want to help you explore what it is that you want to spend your life doing, after all we work 5 out of 7 days of the week for the most part.

Both myself and the experts I will be interviewing will gladly share how all of your “JOBS” will lead you to that defining moment of your career once you commit to clarity around what you want to be doing. Also, in a day and age where so many of us IDENTIFY as our jobs or careers, we’ll explore how to enjoy life offline. How to leave our virtual mobile worlds to find inspiration in the real world! You’ll hear first hand how some of the best content creators, marketers and digital marketers do these very things.

This series “Diary of A Digital Marketer” is about MORE than just looking for and landing the digital marketing job. It’s about learning what we can do to keep up in an ever changing world, it’s about learning how to handle self doubt even if we don’t show the slightest hint of it on our Instagram. As a dear friend of mine Bri Seeley who just wrote a book called Permission To Leap says, it’s about CREATING our lives, not reacting to them.

So, now I get to ask YOU one last question. What’s the best career advice you’ve ever heard and how has it helped you?

Comment below.

Originally published at on October 26, 2017.