Career Searching and Community Building on Calm Waters

Akin to career building, my husband Rob’s and my foray into the sailing lifestyle just three sailing seasons ago has been a community- and skill-building experience that is at times confidence building and euphoric, and other times, discouraging, back-breaking and frustrating. Brick by sailing brick, we accrue relationships and skills, unfurl latent talents and work toward strengthening our sea legs.

Like someone launching a brand-new career in an unfamiliar work-place landscape, we initially offered our enthusiasm, energy and inexperience in jumping aboard the sea-loving community as entry-level sailors. Now, three years in, we are entrenched into a community involving dozens of sailors, many with global, ocean-going experience and all with a love of the art and science called sailing.

Researching and Interviewing

With a bit of online and in-person research and interviewing, we chose and purchased our first sailboat, a 28-foot Columbia; it offered a sturdy framework and thick hull with a weathered exterior well suited for novices who would be inexpertly entering and exiting ports, occasionally bumping and scratching the sides.

If we’d invested in the largest, fanciest sailboat from day one, it would have been akin to an entry-level accountant aspiring to a controller role or a production assistant applying for a chief operating officer role. We had neither the skills, training nor sailing sophistication to navigate the intricacies of the sea with a more complex, pristine and overwhelmingly large vessel.

Likewise, if you are new to the sea of job search, fresh out of school, offering little or no real-world experience, bear in mind that sailing master is a role to aspire to, but your internship as swabby will help you get acclimated into the basics without too much disrepair. Research and submit your resume for opportunities that would benefit from the value your entry-level skill sets and zeal offer, while also ensuring those opportunities offer prospects for future career advancement and propulsion.

The excitement and discovery of learning the job ropes will be the wind that moves your career ship from beginner to more advanced and ultimately to expert contributor who one day will be mastering the wind and exuberantly commanding your shipmates.

Selecting a Culture

Not only was investing in the appropriate sailboat a critical step toward our new sport/hobby, but locating the harbor in which to dock her was key. Geographically speaking, we researched our options and narrowed them down to three locations, basing our decision primarily on reputation among other sailors: where the ‘wind’ was most suitable and where the culture accommodated the best experience and value-laden sailing lifestyle.

The actual financial investment to house our vessel was, quite honestly, low on our list. If the other needs were met, then their value-add justified the investment for something so integral in our lives.

Likewise, in researching and interviewing for your new career company, wrap your mind around the company with a reputation for a culture that fits your needs and values versus focusing purely on salary and job specifications. These other fulfillments are fluid and will expand and evolve over time as you prove your value and impact on the company’s bottom-line.

Integrating Into the Community and Adding Value

As we settled into our new Lake Perry, Kansas, home, the culture we’d entered into not only met, but exceeded our goals. Within a matter of one or two visits, the community around us, mostly seasoned sailors curious as to the novices who’d entered their port, began introducing themselves to us and including us in their tightly-knit, respectful and collaborative group.

One sail, one weekend, one season at a time we embraced, engaged in and were honored by the acceptance of a community of sailors who as easily could have kept us at arm’s length or put us in a position to prove ourselves worthy of their engagement. In fact, just six months after deploying our little ship in this Midwest lake, Rob and I not only promoted to a nicer, larger (34-foot) and more challenging sailboat, we exchanged our wedding vows on our sailboat, amongst our sailing pals and family members.

Perhaps we emanated our sincere desire to become sail-worthy, along with our respect for, and interest in, learning the mechanics and savvy required to sail well, safely and with joy, thus encouraging the collegial warmth of our dock-mates. Perhaps, as well, we got a bit lucky to have found such a lovely community to call our second home!

Likewise, job seekers, if your career goals extend beyond a singular focus to earn a salary and achieve your individual goals to include contributing value to your colleagues, managers and company with whom you collaborate, your likelihood for career success and propulsion increases. Your career resume will blossom as the roots within your community deepen; the culture of which you now are a part is enhanced and the probability of your long-lasting impact and career success soars!

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