You want to be WHAT when you grow up?
When I was really little I wanted to be a gym teacher. Why? Because I love sports and thought running around outside beat reading a book in class an day. Later, as I dutifully filled out college applications and requested references, I listed "math/management" as my preferred field of study. The reason? I had the greatest high school math teacher ever! Mr. Pidgeon was adept at making math fun and nudged me into the best math student I could possibly be. It was the first time I was consistently getting A's in math.
On completion of my freshman year in college, I was pretty sure that mathematician wasn't going to be my thing. I was going to be a lawyer. Yup, I was sure of it.
When senior year came around, we all got busy sending out resumes and cover letters. By this time, I had changed my major to Business Management with a concentration in marketing and minor in MIS. In a tough economy (not unlike this one) I was all over the map applying for jobs in advertising, publishing and marketing while simultaneously gearing up to take GMATs and LSATs. In addition to trying to land my first job, I was also applying to grad schools with joint MBA/JD degrees. I was hungry and wanted to be the first of my friends to land a job. I wasn't. But, I did have a job within weeks of graduation.
One of my part-time jobs in college was contacting alumni and convincing them to donate to their beloved alma mater. Although I often received bonuses for the highest numbers, one night I received the largest donation EVER from a single donor - $10,000. That "sale" came with a $100 bonus. As any college student or graduate can attest, $100 for a college student is serious money. The really big payoff was that the woman on the phone was coincidentally the human resource director at Crain's Chicago Business, a well respected business weekly in the windy city. She was so impressed with my "salesmanship" that she got me an interview with her counterpart at Crain's New York business in Manhattan. That one call (and subsequent interview) secured my first job out of college.
Looking back, even at that point, I had a whole history in the sales profession. In addition to dialing for alumni dollars, I had sold the most tumblers for my cheerleading squad and led sales for my girl scout troop's cookie drive. It never even occurred to me that sales was a career choice, nor that it would end up being mine for over twenty years' time.
I honestly believe that a career in sales chooses you. It seeks out extroverts and athletes, alike. It demands you take no for an answer (often) and then go on unscathed (albeit a few scratches) to pitch another day. If you have a taste for adventure (read: money) and love the "thrill of the chase", sales might be for you.
My son will turn four soon and I can't help but wonder what he'll be when he grows up. His answers to date have been doctor, chef and animal rescuer (Go, Diego, Go!). Only time will tell, I suppose. It's a lasting question that many people consider well into adulthood. I have quite a few 40+ friends looking to reinvent themselves at what is essentially the mid-point in their careers. If that sounds like you, you may consider asking yourself this question:
What do you want to be now that you ARE grown up?