Treating your career — and by extension, yourself — like a corporation (or nonprofit if you prefer) can be a powerful paradigm shift for looking at your employment. When I was freelancing regularly, I tried to grow, even if just a little bit, each year. I started out doing radio and progressed to online journalism. When I first started, I was simply rewriting news stories from other sites. From there, I progressed to writing stories from press releases. From there to creating original content. And from there to bigger sites. From there to getting a story in print and from getting a story to getting the story (the cover).
And from there to making the news on the communications/PR side of things where I am today.
I share that story to map out my career projection in a concise manner (and because this is my site). I also share because it’s a good idea to keep track of where you’ve been when considering where you want to go (I have a big interest in education and if I don’t end up doing this for an institution of higher education, I’d like to land at a start up or an agency that focuses on STEM).
It’s easy to look at people who you believe have reached the pinnacle, but also important to note that even those people are aiming higher. Bill Simmons’ Grantland is one of my favorite sites. The writing is superb and it was a measuring stick for a now-defunct media outlet I helped run. If we could write something Grantland-worthy, we were doing something right.
Despite myself and my former colleagues (and others, no doubt) looking at Simmons as a barometer, Simmons is looking to take the site to new heights. I stumbled on this Q&A with the writer (it really is worth a read) and it reminded me to keep pushing — especially after you’ve achieved success:
This is a really dangerous time for us. Because you can hit a point — we’re not massively successful or anything, but I think we’re doing okay — where you just kind of become who you are. I don’t want that to happen. We’ve been having a lot of meetings the last three months, trying to come up with big-picture ideas, that will change our site, push it to another level.
What sort of stuff do you think will do that?
The Steve Nash thing (a series of video stories about what will likely be the NBA star’s last season). That’s cutting edge, and unlike anything that’s been on the Internet. And we need to come up with seven of those kind of things a year. And I think we have a couple things coming that are on that level. Last year, I look back at it, and we had a really good year. But from a standpoint of looking at where we were in January 2013 and December 2013, we were basically the same site. We just have to do better than that.
Later in the article, Simmons drops this gem:
Grantland’s doing really well, but at the same time most people don’t know it even exists.
With millions of people out there, there’s always someone else we can make aware of our work and our purpose — some of them may even be hiring managers that can take you to the next level.