Planning Your Career
An interview with Bill Chiricos
Bill Chiricos, of the Denver community, is a professional career-planning counsellor who, along with a volunteer staff, operates an employment assistance and planning service at the Denver DUO office.
Lucy: flow did you get into the field of employment yourself
Bill: I came to Denver two years ago and wanted a job. There were lots of employment agencies listed in the paper, so I started looking into them - and I got a job in the largest and most successful one. I worked there for a year. Then I went to a recruiting firm. Companies would come to us and we'd try to find people to fit their job openings.
Lucy: Why did you start working for the Job Co-op at DUO?
Bill: When you're doing recruiting, you need to get a good handle on the whole business and industry field. I got a lot of training, which gave me a whole different perspective on employment. I began to see that this kind of thing could be useful in premie communities. So I went ahead and set up an employment assistance service in the Denver DUO office.
Lucy: If I came into your office to ask you about jobs, what would happen?
Bill: Well, chances are first, I'd find out where you're at and I'd share where I'm at - because I'm going through this whole process, too. The typical thing we hear every day is, "Look, I really want to get into something meaningful. I'm tired of just having this job or that job. I know I have some skills and abilities, I know I can do something in the world, but I'm not sure how to go about doing it." That's really the first step. A person has to be at the point of wanting to do something about employment. Then it's just a matter of having a way to do it.
Lucy: It seems a lot of premies are reaching that point.
Bill: As we grow, we go deeper inside of ourselves and confront more and more things - this is just one of those things. We're seeing that the world isn't going to change overnight, this Knowledge isn't a big bang theory, it's a real, gradual, natural process. And if we're going to be around another 30 or 40 years, working, we might as well do it right.
Lucy: Why do you think this hasn't happened with premies before?
Bill: For some, of course, it has. Some premies already have a really good career situation. But a lot of us haven't. For most people, the employment scene is probably the biggest thing in their lives. But for premies, the biggest thing is developing our relationship with Guru Maharaj Ji. We want to understand how career planning fits into that.
Sometimes, we've had a hard time just seeing where and how it fits in. For many of us, at some point after we received Knowledge, we looked at that whole orientation towards jobs that we'd grown up with and we said,"Wait a minute, I'm going to reevaluate this, and before I do that, I'm going to throw it out." I've talked to so many premies that were well on their way to professional careers when they received Knowledge and then they dropped it all and even developed freaky ideas about it. But now they're saying, "Wait a minute, that was something real in my life."
But it's difficult to reapproach this area of meaningful employment, because it's something that we haven't kept up with over the past few years.
Lucy: It seems that a lot of premies don't know if you can be doing service while pursuing a career.
Bill: Basically, there doesn't have to be a conflict between pursuing the real natural tendencies inside us to be one with God, and the real natural tendencies to be in the world doing something that is meaningful to us. If a person has a job he hasn't made a clear choice about, and he doesn't like it and just has to do it, then it's like calesthenics and gymnastics to make it be service. But if he approaches it in another way, if through the experienceof Knowledge, he comes to really understand himself and his life and then he uses that understanding to consciously choose what kind of work he is going to do, then there is a much better chance that that work can become service.
Lucy: How do you help premies get into a job situation like that?
Bill: We encourage a person to take a really good look at himself, to undergo a lot of self-evaluation.
Lucy: What do you mean by self-evaluation?
Bill: Looking at your strengths and weaknesses, your skills, your lacks. Sometimes we use games and charts that are on the market - tools and tricks you can do with yourself. But I don't really want to talk about them because it's a very individual thing you have to decide for yourself. Some people can just sit down and objectively look at their strengths and weaknesses. But it helps sometimes to write them down and have a little structure.
Actually, the biggest thing that determines what a person does employment-wise is not necessarily his strengths and skills, but what are called tropisms, his natural tendencies and desires. You look at yourself and you say, "I've got this skill and I can do this and that. So maybe I should do this and I should do that." But we have to eliminate the shoulds completely. Just do away with the shoulds right now. Just consider what your natural tendencies are - "I like to be outdoors, I like dealing with people, I like to travel …" And then look at the situations that you've dealt in and been in throughout your life to see which ones come the most naturally. Because really that's what you're looking for - the most natural situation for each individual.
The evaluation process itself takes time. It's not something a person should sit down and rush. With thirty or forty years of working ahead of you, what's a year or two years? And what's four or five years of education out of that, if you decide that's what's needed to prepare you for your vocation? But you shouldn't space it out and ignore it either. You should just be conscious of it and give it some good hard thought.
Lucy: What happens after the self-evaluation?
Bill: Pretty simple. After you find out what you want to do, then set about doing it. The whole idea is to get "a goal." Now the whole thing of having a goal is not that you go blindly toward that goal, but that if you have a point in front of you that you're going towards, then it's easy just to follow a straight line. Of course, you have to understand that it can change 50 times, and you can change 50 times. It's completely flexible, but the important thing is to start going towards it. Having a goal eliminates the uncertainties and hesitations and ambiguities of the whole situation. But we have to explore ourselves thoroughly beforehand, because we might start going out towards a goal only to find out a few months or years later that we didn't want that at all. If we can be really sure and thorough in our preliminary work, the foundation, then when we go towards our goal, the changes aren't so drastic. Then the business of choosing and keeping work is a simple enjoyable matter instead of a problematic, anxiety-causing hassle. And that's the whole purpose of making a plan and executing the plan - it's just a tool helping a person to make those steps and go forward and discover himself even more.
Lucy: Do you help premies follow it up after they have a goal and a plan?
Bill: Sure. We train people how to assist themselves. We show them how to conduct their own search, how to explore the situation. We have lots of career information and brochures, and we share techniques with them - the best techniques of how to uncover information, how to find jobs, and how to develop jobs and careers. But basically, we just let them come up with a goal and a plan of action by themselves.
If what they're planning to do requires a couple of intermediate steps, like a job which leads into another job, which then leads into a career, then they do that, and we'll help them to do that. Because we do have a lot of jobs that come into our office. We do referrals and placements, but that's not our focus. That's only a tool.
Lucy: So basically, what you're doing is helping premies with the practical aspects of living their lives.
Bill: We're all trying to help each other get our trips together. And there are lots of other ways that people can approach the same basic need. There are a lot of premies that have skills and abilities and experiences that they could share with other premies. If we do have a skill, we should go ahead and utilize and share it and not be afraid of it and think it's a trip. Because by sharing what we know, we're helping each other. When a person sincerely wants to help and serve other people, then everyone benefits. Every day I'm helped by the people I talk to. They share some experience with me, and that helps me see my own situation better, and I do the same with them. So that's all we're really doing, sharing ourselves, and helping each other learn what it means to live a life of Knowledge.