A New Era for Career Opportunities
July of this year marked the 15th year of Career Opportunities as a column and the 8th year as a podcast. This seems like the perfect time to start a new era of Career Opportunities. By accident of timing, I now have a perfect, in-house, test subject who can work with me to create and validate new ideas and new columns about careers.
My son, Joseph, entered high school a few weeks ago and as might be expected, this new environment has set off a host of questions that hadn’t concerned him much before. Sure, in the past, we had talked about the typical “what do you want to be when you grow up?” questions, but as a high school Freshman, these questions take on a more concrete and practical application. These are no longer the questions of a small child fascinated with fireman and doctors, but now the questions of a young man starting to deal with one of the most important issues in his life — his future career.
Joseph is in the Tech Focus program of his new high school, chosen probably because of his exposure to technology of all sorts through myself and my work. Though he is more of a gamer — both playing and creating — than I ever was. Where I discovered my interests and learned my skills in the early days of PCs, he has grown up with computers of all sorts and developed his own unique interests. We shall see if he remains in technology as he grows older. He is also a builder and maker of things — immersing himself in Lego for many years now — and loves learning how things work. Perhaps engineering will come to interest him more as he grows up.
I discovered his new interest in his future career when he started asking some deep questions about jobs, work and careers the other day. His high school is focused on helping each child find their interests so they can properly prepare for their college education in the future and I am sure this started him thinking. As I have often discussed here in the past, we talked about how work today is made up of many jobs, often spanning many careers. I would guess that anyone Joe’s age is probably looking at 4-5 completely different careers over the course of their lifetime. The world changes quickly these days and, in the best cases, our lives change quickly, too. What may serve us well today may need to be abandoned or re-created in the future. It is important to be open to such ideas. We should never feel trapped in any career just because of decisions we made several years earlier.
I also stressed to him, as I have to you, that he needs to find work that deeply interests him in some way. Supporting yourself through work is a critical part of life, but I believe that work goes well beyond providing mere subsistence. Work occupies so many hours of our day. It only makes sense to make it as fulfilling and productive as possible. Even when you are starting out in your career, if your work is less than fulfilling, you need to be pursuing your own ideas, your own work, your own career outside of whatever subsistence work you might be doing. You owe it to yourself to “build the career that you deserve” regardless of your current level of job.
As I write this 15th year of Career Opportunities, it will be enlightening and energizing to have a test case living under my own roof. I hope we can discover some great new ideas through our career conversations in the next few years. I think that seeing jobs, work and careers through his eyes will help me to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges — and amazing opportunities — careerists face today. What could be better than a live-in advisor who can help me discuss career topics and then actually implement the ideas we develop.
I have often jokingly referred to my son as our own, little, in-house, sociological experiment and so I think the high school years are going to show us some amazing results. I’ll continue to share our experiences together here (and in the podcast), along with other career topics that affect both young and old. I am greatly looking forward to all the new questions, discussions and experiences the next 4-8 years will bring. Come along on the ride with us!