Test Drive a New Career

© Warren Goldswain - Fotolia.com
© Warren Goldswain – Fotolia.com

Test Drive a New Career

Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, when interviewed by Dave Kerpen, suggests you test-drive your path when considering reinventing yourself. In the professional world this may seem impossible. But I think back to more than 30 years ago when my mother test-drove a new profession, and I have to agree that this is a GREAT suggestion for reinventing yourself.

At the time my mother test-drove a new career, she was a rancher’s wife and mother of four children ages 8 to 18. She started teaching tumbling at the local armory. With her teaching, a great elementary school physical education coach, and a little fearlessness on my part, I became really good at power tumbling.  My mom wanted to enroll me in gymnastics beyond what was available in our small town, and eventually, I competed for a really great gym located in a town about 75 miles from home. I had gym class two nights/week for three hours each night, which translated to six hours/week of “waiting” for my mother.

My mother (aka my chauffeur), was never one to sit in the car and read a book while I practiced. Instead, she decided to advance her career and education during my practice times. Mom, a fearless 40-year-old woman with no college degree, started test driving! She became an unpaid intern at a travel agency.

Over the next two years, while I worked on my glide kip, back extension to push up and handspring full off the vault,  my mother learned the Sabre system’s codes for airports and hotels.

Let me assure I was not on the Olympics team and my test drive as an Olympic gymnastic ended shortly after attending one Béla Károlyi camp. And though I would no longer be making the 150 mile round trip, my mother’s test drive as a travel agent continued. A few years of training and paying a fee as a branch office, she opened her own agency. Today she has survived the airlines squeeze, the economy’s downfall, and cruise ship horror stories. She has owned her travel agency for more than 20 years.

Yay Mom (my entrepreneurial hero)!!!

Now you may be asking yourself, “How do referees test drive new careers?” Well, by using a system that I actually used early in my career and have recommended to several aspiring referees. (I just wasn’t smart enough to coin the term test drive, dang it!) Sometimes, the best way to advance to the next level is to work with those who are already there. Lucky for us, officials have the perfect system for doing that—our camp system.

I don’t believe you should go to Division I level officiating camps before you are ready. I don’t think most of those camps are designed to “get you there” or train you, but rather they are hiring camps. Face it – the people who attend are working to increase their schedule (the people already there) or to get hired (people at or slightly above your current standings and experience) and the people observing (people way ahead of you in their officiating career) are looking to hire or recommend you as someone they would work games with at that level. So I believe if you want to be hired you should go to a camp prepared to be hired. So, how exactly do you test drive?

Test drive outside your area – outside the region you want to be hired. Just like my mother did her test driving in a different community so that she would not be in competition when she decided to go out on her own, I suggest you go out of your area to attend your first camp, especially as it relates to Division I. Gain some experience, get some feedback and bring your weaknesses to light BEFORE you go to the try out camp.

The bonus of attending camps outside your area is that you may also get the benefit of finding a mentor (sneak peek at my next topic: mentorship). Now go test drive that new career! Continue sharing my posts and maybe my test drive as a blogger will turn into becoming a published author one day. I didn’t fall far from the tree, after all. I am always test driving something, just like my mother has always done.

Rachael Monroe

Read more posts on the business of officiating at refwriter.com

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