8 Ways to Make Your Own Career Luck

You sit next to someone on an airplane who later helps you land your dream job.

Your dentist’s daughter is a book editor and, wouldn’t you know it, she’d just love to publish your memoir.

You have a role model in your industry, and your roommate's fiancé just-so-happens to be her best friend.

Okay, chance doesn’t always work out as we might wish … but a few travel apps, a weak economy and plenty of gumption got us thinking.

Cajoling Lady Luck may be easier than ever, with new services like Planely, a Danish startup, and Satisfly, a Hong-Kong based startup. Both apps connect passengers before their flights, so they can see the Facebook profiles of fellow travelers and choose seats by people they'd like to meet. Airlines like Dutch carrier KLM and Malaysia Airlines are getting in on the act with similar services of their own. Sharing and viewing this social media info is, of course, optional all around.

Setting aside (a) the “creepy factor” of sharing your identity with strangers, and (b) the nuisance of, say, an editor being pitched by a potential writer for four hours straight or a creep hitting on someone all the way to Dallas, this new travel trend got me thinking about the role of “luck” in my own life.

How I Made My Own Career Luck at 30,000 Feet

A mere month after I graduated college, I found myself on a seven-hour flight to Europe with a lot of career decisions in my future. I struck up a conversation with the guy next to me, whose job turned out to be helping young analysts in his company figure out what to do with their lives.

He pulled out a worksheet.

All the way to Berlin, he walked me through my strengths and weaknesses, and gave me a new lease on my career. At the time, I was trying to decide between pursuing art history work at a museum and finding a job that allowed me to write—he almost single-handedly shifted the scales toward the latter, and I've never looked back.

I asked around, and found so many similar stories.

For example, as a college senior, Sharon Rosenblatt—now a PR consultant—was having trouble lining up a job after graduation. While she hit the pavement looking for work, she had a part-time gig as a personal trainer. She told one of her clients how she was looking for writing work, and, lo and behold, she offered Rosenblatt a small PR writing project at her company. That turned into a PR internship, which turned into a full-time job offer.

Not only was Rosenblatt lucky, she was primed to seize opportunities in even unlikely places.

I don’t consider myself terribly lucky; I’ve never won a raffle in my life. But I do feel very fortunate in many aspects of my personal and professional life. So it’s dawned on me that sometimes we’ve got to create our own luck.

By polling many different people about their own amazing lucky breaks, researching the “science of luck” and delving into personal experience, I’ve come up with some ways even the unluckiest of us can help career—and life—success find us:

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  • I gave up on my dream of being a professional actress after living in LA for a while. I had no idea what to do so I went to work answering the phones at a ballet school and company for the perks (free classes and tickets… I’m a former dancer). Within three years I found myself as the PR Director and a whole new career. I went back to school and got my Masters. Without the ED taking a chance on me and me taking a ‘menial’ job, I would have never figured it out!

  • Mike

    You know, I am not lucky either. But the thing is, you have to create that very luck in order to get what you want coming back! The process of creating that very luck is something that we all must do on occasion, even if it is hard for us! Life is what you make of it! http://michaeldcarroll.info/