The Butterfly Effect and Your Career Future

I received an email recently from TalentGuard, a talent management/training company, about the concept of the "Butterfly Effect." 

It stated, "The Butterfly Effect is a popular principle in chaos theory that states that in any dynamic system, small initial differences may over time lead to large unforeseen consequences." 

This made me think about how the little things college students do each day lead to a consequence...their career.

So, in the "dynamic system" of college, what are students doing...or not doing?
  • Some go about studying diligently. Others party. 
  • Some work excessive hours to pay their own way through school. Some play XBOX excessively.  
  • Some proactively seek activities to explore interests and develop new skills. Others nap.
  • Some diligently apply for applicable experiences - on- and off-campus jobs, internships, co-ops, job shadowing - to build their skill set and professional network. Others diligently keep their Facebook and Twitter accounts updated. 
Most are probably a blend of these things. I hope so anyway.

Why does it matter? 
In working with students struggling to choose an academic major and career path, I work diligently to help them navigate self exploration, research options and move forward. However, more often than not, it isn't time with me that acts as the "magic pill" that results in a career decision. It's all these little actions that helps the student find their fit, their passion, their calling. Yes, the final enlightening moment MIGHT be the confirmation of a career assessment. But it might be a year after the assessment when a student is volunteering with a local food bank or sitting in a new class or leading peers when the magic happens. And just as simply as a butterfly alights on a flower for nourishment or rest, that student is suddenly confident about his or her future.

So how do you get to the magic landing? You do it all.
  • Take classes in areas of interest
  • Get involved on campus and try out skills and discover new ones
  • Seek a job or internship to test a career of interest and develop professional skills
  • Give back to your school and community
  • Use the assessments available through the Career Center
  • Talk to a career counselor to gain insight into assessment results
  • Research and educate yourself of your options
And last but not least...know that self-discovery doesn't have to stop in college. Pursue it actively. And while I realize there are careers associated with each of the following, I have never heard of anyone identifying their career of choice because of a nap, late night partying, playing XBOX or updating a Facebook status.

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