Four Steps to Defending Your Career

Working in digital public affairs, people don’t always understand what I do day to day. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to explain to someone who’s never worked in a “behind the scenes” type of job. But that’s OK, because I love what I do. I’m not in it for the money, that’s for sure! What’s not OK is when I feel the need to explain my career defensively because someone else doesn’t think it’s quite up to par.

So I’m not a brain surgeon, teacher, firefighter or someone touching the hearts and lives of people every single day. But just because I work in a political field doesn’t mean I’m spineless. I’m passionate. Passionate about what goes on in the world around us – so much so that I chose a career to help connect people to important issues.

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to find in a career? Something we’re passionate about, something we’re proud of, something that makes us happy? I think so, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m wrong because “tweeting for a living is absurd,” “spinning the news is kind of immoral,” and “politics is ruining the nation, one town at a time.”

News flash: I’M NOT WRONG! And neither are you for being proud of your career. Someone else’s ignorance should not be your misfortune. However, it’s only natural to want to tell these people to get their heads out of their derrieres while defending every part of your job. I still struggle to control my rage and fury, but here are a few steps I’ve learned to take when I find myself in this situation:

  • Step One: Smile, gulp your wine, and say, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
  • Step Two: If the culprit persists, simply ask what it is that bothers them so much, and why. Typically, they don’t have a logical response because no one has ever questioned them. They end up gulping their own wine to cover up their embarrassment. Success.
  • Step Three: If the culprit is a plain old jerk, they’ll be offended you questioned them and hit you with another low-blow. So you hit ‘em right back with, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” And walk way. Sweet success.
  • Step Four: (Note: This step isn’t necessarily on the high road.) Take one last sip of your wine and savor it as you pour the rest of your glass on their head. If you’ve run out of wine because you’ve used the gulp technique to bite your tongue, kick ‘em in the shin and run like the wind. I know, not very mature, but it works like a charm. Sweetest success.

OK, so I have never actually made it to step four, but I think I’d enjoy it. The point of this whole four-step process is that as young professionals, we’ll encounter similar moments for the rest of our careers – we just have to learn to smile and remember that the person judging us is fighting their own internal battles. Misery loves company, right?

So stand up tall and speak proudly of your career, you’ve certainly worked hard enough for your success.

Have you ever wanted to punch someone in the face because they thought your career choice wasn’t good enough? I’d love to hear the stories!

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.

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