by Rona Sisson

Dear CHCC (Chestnut Hill Career Column): I graduated from college this year and it has been so crazy – I feel completely lost and don’t even know where to begin looking for a job. My degree is in political science, but I’m not sure about law school or anything like that. My mom is an accountant and thinks I should pursue some certificate program at St. Joseph’s University and consider that profession. What do you think?

First, I hope you were able to do some sort of celebration to commemorate your HUGE accomplishment in obtaining your B.A! I have seen some signs and balloons all around Chestnut Hill for high school and college graduates, and we all wish you well.

Regarding your question, I think your mom may be onto something… no matter the economy, folks need financial support whether it’s a bookkeeper, accountant or controller for their respective situations. Not everyone has that ‘math mind’ as people call it, and if you think you do or have done well in those courses during high school and/or college, maybe that field is a good choice. I am familiar with the post-baccalaureate accounting program at St. Joseph’s and know someone who did it — he is now a principal in an accounting firm and doing well!

On your thoughts on law school, consider a sidestep to see what it could entail by considering a paralegal certificate program. Paralegals support attorneys in their practice and it’s a great way to see the inside workings of a law firm, different legal practice areas, and see if that field is for you. Full time programs can last 4 months; part time evening programs can run 9 months. Just make sure it is ABA (American Bar Association) approved. Whatever you decide to do, stay focused and positive despite all that’s going on in the world. It will all work out. Best, RS

Dear CHCC: What’s the difference between a job and a career, and can’t you be happy in either situation?

Great question. Yes, absolutely you can be happy and fulfilled personally and professionally in something you (and others) may call your ‘job.’ And the same holds true for folks who may consider their path to be their ‘career.’ It sounds like you have read about a definitional difference that in some way, having a job is somehow less than having a career: I do not agree with this sentiment, having seen people extremely unhappy, for example, in their ‘career.’

These phrases are simple labels we ascribe to work situations. How you define the difference seems to depend on the context where your personal situation stands, the educational pursuits you have pursued and accomplished, your talents and skills, and of course, timing and circumstances (some call this plain dumb luck!).

Regarding the word “career,” its origins are traced back to the mid-16th century, denoting a road or racecourse. Our usage evolved from the French word carrière, from Old Occitan carriera meaning “street,” and from Medieval Latin carraria meaning “road for vehicles.” Career per the dictionary means a profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling.

We probably all agree, an individual’s calling can change over time, so whatever you call your situation, I hope you are fulfilled and happy with your work. Take good care – RS

Rona Sisson is an attorney and also serves as Executive Director with Mestel & Co., a legal recruiting firm with offices nationwide. A resident of Chestnut Hill, she has been in the career field for over 25 years, and provides career advice and job searching strategies to clients across the region. You may email her your questions at for the CHCC.

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