When a newly minted graduate asks to meet and discuss career options, it’s hard for me to say no. The truth is I selfishly enjoy meeting young people interested in education and publishing. Almost without fail, their pas sion for doing something worthwhile with their professional life reminds me of why I’ve enjoyed virtually every day of my career.
I didn’t start out want ing to work in educa tional publishing. In fact, I wanted to publish just about anything but educational materials, but the business of pub lishing for K12 pulled me in like a magnet. My first job out of business school was in strategic planning for a company made up of multiple publishing lines. With considerable reluctance, I kept being pushed into assignments for the edu cational branch of the business. It didn’t take long for me to have one of those “aha!” moments and realize that I had a real affinity for K12 education.
I quickly became fascinated with all aspects of the business: the science of learning, the oppor tunities for innovation, the culture of schools and how all those fac tors bear on creating and maintaining a successful business model. I’m still fascinated by the com plexity and changeability of the education market place, and because of this I find my job persistently intriguing.
This brings me to a piece of advice that I offer almost every young person with whom I meet. Certainly, one should pursue career opportunities in areas in which one has an inter est. However, at the same time, I always recom mend that young career seekers keep an open mind with all antennae tuned to unforeseen possibilities.
Often the best jobs find you, rather than the other away around. I think this is particu larly true for women. While I believe there is considerable equality once women get into the workplace, they often face greater obstacles than men in finding out what opportunities are out there and how to pursue them.
I also have one purely practical piece of advice to offer: master the numbers. Understanding the metrics of your busi ness model is absolutely essential for business suc cess. Be persistent and become expert with the algebra of your business. Once you do you’ll have a necessary and sturdy foundation on which to build new plans and ideas, and you’ll be rec ognized for your clear, crisp thinking.