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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

A Job Is Not a Career

Understand that no single job or career choice defines or predicts ultimate failure or success. If viewed properly, even those career choices that don't work out bring value to your overall career success. The more you learn about yourself—your aptitudes and desires—the greater your chance for satisfaction over the life of your career.

Having methods that help you transfer existing experience and knowledge into new areas, and an understanding of the tools to help you rapidly develop both expertise and contacts in the field, will provide you with the freedom to change your plans. You will feel comfortable knowing that if you decide to alter your career path after ten years in one direction, those ten years have not been lost.

Even if you decide suddenly to leave network engineering and move into multimedia presentation, the skills provided in the toolkit and the perspective offered will make the transition possible.

As stated earlier, no job makes a career, and no job breaks a career.

Perspectives on Career Development: Careers Are Nonlinear

One of the more damaging and career stifling ideas is that careers are linear in nature. That is, you progress neatly from job to job, with incremental increases in pay, responsibility, and title, until you reach a theoretical apex.

Careers are far less structured. In a few cases, someone's career might take on a linear feel or appearance. However, for the huge majority, careers are more free-form. They have tangible substance, in the form of a plan and long-term objectives; however, they necessarily take twists and turns along the way.

It is important to understand that this is the case for a few reasons:

  • To reduce your anxiety when something unexpected happens. For some, unexpected career changes often produce a feeling of being left behind or of having been removed from their career path. Here are two things to consider:

    • You are always in your career. Even when you are out of work, you are in your career.
    • As stated earlier, no job makes a career, and no job breaks a career.

      Often, these detours allow the development of critical skills or key relationships that you would not have been exposed to otherwise.

  • Understanding that careers are nonlinear allows you to make job/career change decisions more easily. You can look at an opportunity with a less biased view. Your assessment of opportunity can be squarely considered based on the opportunity—not based on a mythical career path.

Perspectives on Career Development: A Working Plan Makes Tedious or Unrewarding Jobs Bearable

This is a critical idea. If you have a plan and are enacting it, your ability to survive and even strive in more tedious jobs is greatly increased. Imagine working in a fast-food restaurant as a clerk. (This is easy for me because I did exactly that in my youth.) If you knew you had to work there for two years, how would you perform, and what would your psyche be?

Now imagine that you are informed that if you can learn key skills at this job, at the end of two years, you will be paid $5 million. How would you perform then? How would it impact your attitude and your ability to extract career-enhancing jobs even while at that job?

A plan that is being acted upon makes the tedious or less desirable job more than bearable. This perspective will have you actively looking for ways to improve yourself in preparation for your total career.

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