Here’s a new way to think about your life: You are in the second act of a very interesting story.

You had the first part of your life…childhood, teenage, then young adult. You may have started a family, you probably have a house, a spouse and lots of possessions. Now, you’re starting a new phase where you will be well educated, have a new job and possibly new debt. If you ever needed a strong career search, it is now.

That is why I read with interest a story in Marie Claire. Granted, the magazine isn’t the same thing as Fortune, Entrepreneur or even Money when it comes to job help. But I’ve been surprised since I started receiving the mag about how career-conscious the articles have been. (There’s even a whole section on careers at its Website.) The February 2011 edition has a short piece on Mika Brzezinski, a television reporter who formerly worked at CBS News.

She was fired and then hired as co-host of MSNBC’S Morning Joe television show. The magazine calls this her “second act,” and I loved the phrasing of that. They also call what happened to her (she supposedly got fired so CBS would have enough coin on hand to hire Katie Couric) an “unlikely comeback.” Let’s hope that’s not what happens to you!

Here is some of the advice she shares:

• Don’t trust everyone. Just trust a select few, and have your doubts about them, too. Now, this might seem like a Debbie Downer when it comes to advice…but I think it’s relevant to today’s working world. Don’t think the interviewer or boss has your best interests in mind…You and only you have your best interests in mind all the time. So do what is best for you.
• Do whatever it takes to find that job. Brzezinski took a job as a freelance reporter for MSNBC, which cut her salary into shreds. But she got work, and that kept her in the public eye. If you have had to work during your college time, that is a good thing in many ways. You have kept your foot in the door, you have kept your skills sharp and you are more marketable because of it.

“If you’re meant to be somewhere, you do whatever it takes. I came to MSNBC as a freelance reporter, for a job I would have laughed at 15 years ago, at a 10th of the salary. But it was work.”

• There is no such thing as “The Right Time” to do something. If you waited for Prince Charming, you’re probably still single now. If you waited for the right moment to have children, you’re going to be waiting forever. So when it comes to finding a job, be ambitious and do what it takes to get your act together, get out there and find something. Don’t wait around for the right thing to come to you.
• Don’t undersell yourself. Get the salary and benefits you deserve at the front. Brzezinski talks about how she got hired in at MSNBC at a much lower rate than she really deserves. And no amount of negotiation has worked to get her income up where it belongs. So don’t sell yourself short when it comes to that dance that happens between “You’ve got the job” and “Today’s your first day.”
• Finally, remember…”There’s always more money to be made,” Brzezinski said. And it’s true. You could always work more, work longer and work smarter. Get that job and work it to death. Don’t sacrifice everything (like time with your kids, if you can). But give it your all. It’s your career, and you’ve worked so hard to get here. That education will pay off, and the job will pay you more than you know in terms of money, self-esteem and influence.

Thanks, Marie Claire, for your inspiring words. Oh, and of course, if you want to hear more, Brzezinski is coming out with a book soon. It is going to be called “Knowing Your Value,” and it comes out in April. It seems to me that it might be worth a read.

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