By Alec Wilcox
Featured Image Credit: Grace Dunn
In Washington D.C., professional success is viewed in such a unique way. The Drake in D.C. class has had the opportunity to meet with many fascinating individuals with different professional backgrounds and different career paths. What I found interesting was that these highly successful people had not been working long tenures at the same company. Rather, long resumes were associated with these professionals.What makes D.C. so unique is that climbing the proverbial ladder is not what defines professional success, nor is a long term tenure with a company. Bryan Klopack, a Drake alumnus
who works at Special Olympics, mentioned that there were equally successful people who had been working for 3o years with Special Olympics who were only halfway up the ladder, and individuals like himself who had been working with the company for a much shorter period of time who were higher up the ladder. Neither were viewed as more successful than the other. Climbing the proverbial ladder is not what defines success.
From my perspective of D.C., professional success is achieved by following opportunity, especially early on in an individual’s post-collegiate life. This is what individuals like Bryan Klopack did. Bryan started out working for Senator Claire McCaskill on Capitol Hill post-graduation, a job that really has no direct correlation to non-profit work. His job on Capitol Hill (and some of his later jobs) gave him the skills to get hired and be successful in his current job at the Special Olympics. Bryan just kept taking opportunities that were out there when he was looking, and received skills and experience in D.C. that made him a very viable candidate for the job he has currently.
Climbing the proverbial ladder is not what defines success
The moral of this story is that as professionals we should always be open to opportunities that are out there. While it can be very helpful to build a positive repertoire in only one industry, crossing over into different industries because of opportunities which arise will not hurt you, but help you. The frequency with which this mentality is displayed seems unique to D.C. However, it is a mentality that can work everywhere. As professionals, if we continue to consider or even take opportunities that arise, we will not only be able to obtain unique and marketable professional skills, but also make it easier for us to find and work in our dream field.