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Home > Audio, Podcast, Show > Look for jobs outside the norm — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

Look for jobs outside the norm — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

June 4th, 2013

Career Opportuntiies Logo 2012

Whenever people think about jobs it seems they always focus on the typical choices — doctor, lawyer, engineer, programmer, salesperson. While these are certainly some of the better known career paths in today’s world, I would challenge each of you to think outside the norm, at least a little, when contemplating your first — or next – job. You might be surprised what you find there.

Books by Douglas E. Welch

Like everyone, my career thinking can get trapped in the usual ruts. Since we are surrounded with these typical job types, it can be difficult to see that there are a myriad of choices available to innovative careerists. In my own case, I recently had a moment where I remembered that not everyone works in an office (or home office) hunched over their computer.

Last Saturday, my wife, son and I took a trip to Santa Cruz Island, part of the Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Southern California. It really helped to shake up my thinking about careers, as I was reminded of many jobs that the average person doesn’t even contemplate. From the dock in Ventura Harbor to Prisoner’s Harbor on Santa Cruz Island and during our time on the island, I met many people who were living the antithesis of the 9 to 5 office career. When cocooned within our own typical careers and thoughts about work, we can forget (or ignore the fact) that these options even exist. Based on my experience, let me introduce you to a number of jobs and careers that perhaps you have never considered.

First, we encountered the staff of Island Packers, who deliver hikers, campers and workers to and from the islands via catamaran. Of course, there were office staff members who handled ticketing and other business functions, but there were also the crews on the boats who ensure a quick and safe journey. They have to handle the logistics of moving people, camping gear, kayaks and supplies to and from the boat which only has limited access to the island dock. They have to be sea and safety conscious while also focusing on customer service and making sure their visitors have an enjoyable time.

Many of these same staffers also take on the role of hike leader and naturalist once we arrived at the island. They introduced us to the unique environment of the park, warned us of hazards, and made clear the rules we needed to obey to protect the flora and fauna of the island. Some of these people were college educated in ecology, biology and other sciences and some were not, but all were personable and knowledgeable. Talking with one staffer, I heard that she had volunteered on the island for many months before deciding to pursue her career there.

Once on the island I met another collection of professionals. There were, of course, the National Park rangers who lived and worked on the island, protecting the environment, maintaining the infrastructure of campgrounds and buildings and engaging in scientific studies about the unique plants and animals that live there. In some cases, this involves tracking and tagging — with microchips and radio collars — the endangered Channel Island Fox that lives only on the Channel Islands. These rangers are joined by several different private contractors who are hired by the National Park Service to work on construction and other infrastructure projects as well as scientific studies such as population studies, geologic research projects and more.

Finally, there were the hosts of our particular trip, The Friends of the Islands Fox. This group is part of the Channel Islands Foundation non-profit and they have been working (quite successfully) for years with the National Park Service and other groups to bring the Channel Island Fox back from the brink of extinction. Staffers, including my close friend, Keri, are volunteers who visit schools with programs educating students about the Island Fox. They work with teachers and students to learn how the foxes live and how they are monitored with radio collars and microchip implants.

None of these people have what might be considered a “normal” job, even though they are using skills and knowledge that would serve them well in any position. Through either direct choice or simply serendipity they have found careers far outside the norm and flourished there. Take these people as an example of how every career need not be the same old, same old, career. You don’t have to fall into the usual job classifications, you can use your work skills, knowledge and outside interests to develop a career that other people might envy — if they know about it at all.


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