No career plan? No problem! 3 key factors in choosing great jobs
I’ve been blessed with great jobs! Of course, I’ve had my share of monotonous, mindless jobs. Here I’m referring to the more “serious” jobs, which supported both my lifestyle and, for the last 10 years, the life of my daughter — I’m talking about the kind of jobs you list on your curriculum vitae.
While attending high school in Italy, I specialized in business and languages; while at university in the U.S., I majored in international business and minored in French and German; and my master’s degree focused on international business. Notice a theme?
When entering the workforce, my two main requirements for a job were, not surprisingly, very simple:
· Must involve travel, preferably international
· Involves using foreign languages
These simple criteria have led to an eclectic succession of super interesting jobs in mostly great locations, as well as a gratifying professional path.
If you do look at my LinkedIn profile, you’ll find a seemingly random collage of jobs in a variety of unrelated industries. I’ve worked in tech, tourism, higher-education, NGO, music, sports, betting, and more. On second review, it’s easy to find the common thread. All the roles have a focus on international markets and consumers. Most importantly, each role helped me grow and advance my career path, usually not in a straight line — but that’s what keeps life interesting.
My position as the director of the Foreign Language Training Program at the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), is the job that personifies my main selection criteria. I always wondered what it would be like to live and work in a region like the Caribbean, and I found the perfect opportunity. OECS is an intergovernmental organization headquartered in St. Lucia, with jurisdiction over the Lesser Antilles, 10 island nations in the Eastern Caribbean.
I managed a pilot project for the language training of professionals in the public and private sector and teachers in French and Spanish. The main goal of the program was to encourage more cooperation and trade among countries in the wider Caribbean region, through increased language and cultural understanding.
You may think the main benefit of the job was sand, sea and sun, and for good reason! I won’t deny they are a major plus; but it was so much more. I believed deeply in the purpose of the program and how it was conceived. In this role, I worked with some of the smartest and most competent people I’d ever met; I learned to manage the widest array of stakeholders I could ever imagine; and gained a deep understanding of each local market and culture, which served me well in many future roles.
Let’s face it, it was also super cool! I can honestly claim that I have visited 30 Caribbean islands.
Key selection criteria
Luckily, through my unconventional professional path, I have paid attention and learned a few more simple criteria that have been constants in all the jobs I’ve loved and have propelled me forward.
Great product or service
My first “real” job out of college was at Dragon Systems, a company that pioneered speech recognition technology and products. We were “renegade dictators”!
We traveled the world demoing the technology at tech and professional trade-shows. Our booth always included a theater with seats to demo the product to the general public. We spoke into a wireless mic, and the computer would do what we told it to do and transcribe what we said — in multiple languages! It may sound fairly basic these days, but these were the early 1990’s! Back then, speech recognition was like sci-fi. Our theater was always overflowing and our audience would clog the aisles. We got lots of “oohs” and “aahs” as well as many questions. It was a blast. Among us, we always chuckled at the booths of printer manufacturers demoing their product: “Look, it prints. In color!”
The point is, believing in the product — and even being passionate about the product — makes your job so much more interesting, enjoyable, and stimulating.
My initial exposure to the field of localization was at Dragon Systems, with a technology and product that is inherently tied to language. I dove head first back into localization about 10 years ago, when I was approached by one of the leading companies in online sports betting, and based in Curaçao, to build their localization program: Pinnacle. Turns out, iGaming sites are some of the most multilingual sites on the internet, as their services have global reach.
I quickly realized that Pinnacle was primarily a technology and data company servicing the betting market, with advanced systems and processes. All the company’s activities are completely digital, so there are virtually no offline activities. Talk about a perfect environment to update and exponentially grow my knowledge, gain experience in localizing digital content, work with a variety of digital platforms, and research innovative solutions to scale.
We’ve been told “don’t judge a book by its cover.” I have found that this holds true in our professional choices, too.
Dig beyond the obvious and you may discover that the best added value of a job may be the growth potential.
In my experience, I have noticed that truly smart people display certain characteristics:
· Receptiveness to other points of view and openness to intelligent discussions.
· The willingness to share their knowledge paired with curiosity about the experiences of others.
As a consultant I enjoyed complete autonomy. I had total control of my schedule, priorities, and to a certain degree, the people I worked with. It’s difficult to give up that kind of freedom! It’s also very easy to forget the thrill of working in an environment filled with smart people. To my delight, this is exactly the environment I found when I came to ASICS Digital.
1. My first impression of my new colleagues was, YOUTH! Everyone was about 20 years younger than me. I feel like a dinosaur! Breathe, don’t panic, I told myself.
2. My second impression was, wow, everyone here really knows their stuff, and they’re not arrogant about it. Cool, I could work with that.
3. Next, I noticed openness and inclusiveness. Much of the work is presented and discussed in an open forum. SCORE!
4. I also saw that my colleagues, had really inquisitive and curious minds. They asked lots of questions in the open forums, in chats, in the hallways, over coffee or a beer, everywhere. Bonus!
The team at ASICS Digital also creates a stimulating environment that encourages knowledge sharing and exploration of new ideas and tools. This blog series is one of the many ways we can contribute and concurrently benefit from each other’s talents.
5. My fifth and most exciting impression highlights a final characteristic I’ve come to attribute to smart people.
The team at ASICS Digital lives by the mantra: work hard AND play hard! Now I KNOW, I’m in the right place!
Do you think ASICS Digital could be the right fit for you? Check out our open roles: https://www.asicsdigital.com/jobs/