Monday, November 12, 2012

I have a job for you: Search for a career.

Work: we often hate it, but we’ve all got to do it anyway, right?
PFA Co-President Gregory Jasinski
Last week, PFA welcomed special-guest Stan Luboff to SPEA for a multitude of events. I had the pleasure of attending these events with Mr. Luboff, hearing him discuss in-depth his lengthy work history and his very successful career. As we celebrate Veteran’s Day this week, I note that Mr. Luboff is a US Veteran. After spending 6+ years in the Air Force, he began an amazing 28-year career with Bank of America in 1972. He has spent the last 10+ years working for the Illinois Division of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. According to Mr. Luboff, his mission there is three-fold: “1) to create jobs; 2) to create jobs; and 3) to create jobs.” That powerful phrase has resonated with me, which leads me to this blog-post.
As a student who will finish his Master’s degree in a few short months, I am pretty busy lately researching employers, writing cover letters, sending out resumes, and scheduling interviews. Nevertheless, I still do not know what I want to do or where I want to be after graduation, but whatever job title I end up with, I sure hope it’s the start of a great full-time, real-world career.

A career is not just lines on a resume; it is a lifelong development and pursuit of your passions, goals, and dreams. “I love this class” or “I love my job,” we’ve all heard the sayings. You even may have fallen victim to uttering them yourself at one point or another. But do you really stroll into class or waltz into work with a smile on your face every single day, thinking to yourself, “Wow, this is exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life!”? Of course not-- but if you do, congratulations (and keep reading). Often, a job or a class begins to feel like a chore that simply results in a paycheck deposited in your bank account or a grade recorded on your transcript. Why do you think that academic semesters are only 4 months long? Because such tedious obligations and mundane responsibilities begin to take control of our lives. Similarly, if you become mindlessly glued to the phone or lost in the computer screen (reading Twitter) on a daily basis at work, you’ll end up right where you started, in the seat you never left.

According to theorist Richard Florida, the average American changes jobs every 3 years; and those under the age of 30 changes jobs once a year! So transitions and jobs changes are a common part of life, but those jobs are all part of your career. For starters, an internship is a great opportunity to get a feel for a company, field, or industry. It is also the best time to begin networking and sharing advice and information with other. According to Mr. Luboff, there is absolutely nothing better than direct person-to-person human interaction in the real-world. Therefore, you must attend after-work or after-school events to meet new people and develop long-term professional relationships. Grab lunch with a boss, co-worker, or friend to catch up on life. Yes, take advantage of LinkedIn, but more importantly, keep in touch personally. Then, when you begin your first full-time job, make sure that you can take steps up the ladder in your career, because if this is not possible, you will seriously need to plan a step out the door. I guarantee you that once you start working you’ll often desire something different and you’ll always be searching for something more, be it a pay raise, a promotion, a new office, a change of scenery, or whatever. And if you don’t believe me or you don’t think you will, just wait until you have your (first) midlife crisis (or mid-midlife crisis).

Simply put, a professional or academic career is a journey of challenges and opportunity. A career requires commitment, hard work, and dedication. (Likewise, a little luck along the way never hurts either.) The rewards are certainly worth the effort, so take advantage of your skills and do GREAT things. Be bold and invest in an advanced degree. Take risks and become an entrepreneur. Have confidence and apply for a better job. You may not see your family or friends for extended periods of time, but you’ll definitely learn a thing or two about yourself and others as you grow older (and hopefully wiser). Finally, if anyone ever tells you “no” along the way with respect to something you truly believe in, just remember that with the right grammar and punctuation, the word “impossible” says “I’m possible.

Endnote- Make sure to check out when you have a chance. It is a very useful resource with lots of great career tips and other advice.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Women in Public Finance

By Taylor Paton
According to the nonprofit, Women in Public Finance, “The mission of Women in Public Finance is to advance women's leadership opportunities and potential by fostering relationships and networking, and providing educational and learning activities and forums.” That is, essentially, the aim of SPEA’s Public Finance Association’s Women in Public Finance Committee: to connect women who are interested in public finance. For some, that is all the explanation needed. Women thrive in with the support and presence of other women; however, I may be biased having attended an all women’s college for my undergraduate education. For others, the question may still remain, why have a public finance committee for women?
 The financial sector is seeing a slow in the number of interested women. In the 1970s and 1980s women were breaking into the financial industry in droves; however, today less young women are entering or even interested in the finance fields. In his article “Lost Generation: Young Women Flee Finance,” Kyle Stock states,
 “Between 2001 and 2010, the number of women over the age of 55 in finance fields…rose by 296,000 or 45.2%. This reflects the waves of women who joined the industry 30 years ago and stayed.”

Thus, in the same period the number of women between the ages of 20 and 24 decreased. So why did these women leave? Why aren’t more women entering into the industry like their mothers’ generation? According to Stock, “women hitting the workforce in the 21st-century aren’t driven by the same sense of purpose that their generation had—the mission of breaking into the boys club.” Stock concludes that women are avoiding financial industries to maintain a work-life balance. Personally, I believe that is nonsense, yet I will not disagree that there is a stigma that financial industries tip the balance in favor of work over life (See my plug below for PFA event coming in January). I agree more with Stock’s notion of the sense of purpose. Women are driven by a purpose, men too. As women, we need a cause, a reason to do what we do. Where is Mitt Romney’s “Binder of Women” when you need it?
 Well, Mittens, your binder decided to go to D.C. without you. Today’s headlines are filled with titles such as Newsday’s “Elizabeth Warren, Deb Fischer help set record number of women In U.S. Senate” and CNN’s “Women gain in the Senate” and “Women are no longer outsiders” and my favorite, The Daily Beast’s “Estrogen Feast: Key Women in the Race for Congress.” If you haven’t already concluded, today was an important day in politics for women. Hannah Rosin’s Opinion article for CNN earlier this evening explained that it wasn’t long ago that women were newcomers in Washington D.C. Rosin said,
“Workplace studies from the 1970’s showed that when women reached a third of an office population, their presence no longer seemed unusual. The Senate will be one-fifth female. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting close.”
Today is a great day to be a woman. Today is a great day to be in the public sector. Today is a great day to get interested in public finance. Public finance is the best of both worlds. If you want to know more about careers in public finance, have questions about work-life balance in public finance, or just want to hang out with some wonderful, inspiring women join us in January as SPEA’s Women in Public Finance Committee teams up with the state of Indiana Chapter of Women in Public Finance to discuss all of this and more. Ask your questions or just come to hang out. Watch your inbox for more info!
 Great articles mentioned in this blog:
 Abigail Pesta. “Estrogen Fest: Key Women in the Race for Congress.” The Daily Beast.
 Hannah Rosin. “Women less likely to be political outsiders now.” Special to CNN.
 Bloomberg News. “Elizabeth Warren, Deb Fischer help set record number of women in U.S. Senate.”