Success, when put under the societal microscope, is a semi-polarizing concept. While the endgame promises replenishing facets for arguably both your personal and professional platforms in life, it’s actually attaining it that is traditionally characterized as a painful, matter-of-fact, corporately war-like slog. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone is game for telling you that you will never achieve it. The image of success that has long been promoted to people far and wide has been that classic, Melanie Griffith Working Girl type deal. The barely slipping through the ideological cracks, the abandoning of one’s immediate sense of self, values, and priorities to take on the long view. But as mentor and leadership advice expert Sean O’Keefe brilliantly demonstrates in his new book, Launch Your Career:
How ANY Student Can Create Relationships with Professionals and Land the Jobs and Internships They Want, it doesn’t have to be this way anymore. Terms like degree, credentials, and experience have taken a backseat in workplace discourse, replaced with phrases like outside of the box, cutting-edge, cutting corners, rewriting and breaking the rules. While Launch Your Career expertly highlights the pragmatic tips of the trade for pursuing your passion within the modern job market, O’Keefe spends equally as much time – if not more – on highlighting the importance of one’s psychosocial mentalities when pursuing said endeavor(s). Part of O’Keefe’s craft as a writer is making personalized examples to each of the tenets he lays out along with The Career Leadership Collective. They aren’t always flattering, and it’s this ability for O’Keefe to put himself out on the line literarily like so that makes him feel all the more reliable. He’s learned it the hard way, and now he’s paying it forward so you don’t have to.
In the spirit of the aforementioned qualities, O’Keefe manages to juggle both narrative-like prose with more clinical, yet succinct and decidedly un-dense descriptors of the ideal mindset the young professional should maintain with respect to the christened ‘power of being proactive’. He writes, “To optimize success, you want to implement a holistic job search approach that includes both proactive and reactive strategies used simultaneously.” In short, retain a sense of malleability and flexibility that straddles preexisting, informed approaches and biases with a sense of spontaneity courtesy of shifting events and a shifting landscape. O’Keefe continues, “Most students are only reactive when applying to jobs. They only respond to the opportunities rather than seeking to create them.
Reactive methods include applying to positions through your school’s online job portal, attending information sessions or fairs, or submitting your resume on job posting websites…While these strategies sometimes lead directly to jobs and internships, oftentimes it is hard to truly differentiate yourself.” Hence, the need for what O’Keefe christens the ‘proactive strategies’ for the said ‘holistic’ approach one needs when navigating the job market. And in short again, hence the need for one’s careful implementation and preservation of their individuality, in addition to their learned, experience-based capabilities. Success does not depend on selflessness, he stresses. Rather, it’s quite the opposite. Success depends upon the successful maintaining of the balance between these two things. It’s an effective and unique message to put out there to the burgeoning professional, and a necessary one at that too…