Take con­trol

Choos­ing the right ca­reer and be­ing suc­cess­ful in it re­quires re­search, con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion

Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - FRONT PAGE - BAR­BARA BOWES

HAVE you ever thought about how you chose your ca­reer? Frankly, I chose my ini­tial ca­reer through the process of elim­i­na­tion; “I didn’t want this or I didn’t want that.” There cer­tainly wasn’t much an­a­lyt­i­cal think­ing be­hind my de­ci­sion. And when I did make the fi­nal de­ci­sion, I made it based wholly on an ab­so­lutely false premise. I be­lieved that if a favourite un­cle liked my po­ten­tial oc­cu­pa­tion of teach­ing and had risen up the ca­reer lad­der to school su­per­in­ten­dent, then my se­lec­tion must be the right oc­cu­pa­tion for me. How ab­surd. How laugh­able that de­ci­sion was, now that I look back on it, so many years ago.

To­day, ca­reer choices are no longer based on so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus, gen­der, tra­di­tional fam­ily oc­cu­pa­tions or on the ca­reers of a favourite un­cle. In fact, many of to­day’s ca­reers and cer­tainly those com­ing in the fu­ture weren’t even in­vented when your par­ents made their ca­reer choices.

This fast-chang­ing ca­reer field leaves peo­ple vul­ner­a­ble, but also in­creases the im­por­tance of tak­ing per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity for one’s ca­reer. It also points sharply to the im­por­tance of con­tin­u­ous learn­ing. In other words, ed­u­ca­tion re­mains one of the most im­por­tant in­gre­di­ents to per­sonal and pro­fes­sional suc­cess, to­day, to­mor­row and for­ever.

On the other hand, cor­po­ra­tions and or­ga­ni­za­tions are also rec­og­niz­ing the im­por­tance of on­go­ing learn­ing for their em­ploy­ees. Time and time again, or­ga­ni­za­tional lead­ers are re­fer­ring to their fu­ture growth as be­ing de­pen­dent on em­ployee learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment. As a re­sult, they are con­tin­u­ally cre­at­ing ca­reer lad­ders and fo­cus­ing more on per­sonal and pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment strate­gies that will take em­ploy­ees be­yond their cur­rent jobs.

So, what’s the mes­sage for read­ers? The mes­sage is that no mat­ter whether you are a new grad­u­ate and/or if you have been in the work­force for sev­eral years, your learn­ing will never end. But the is­sue is not that you will al­ways be a per­pet­ual stu­dent, it’s how to re­tain con­trol of your ca­reer and your learn­ing.

Tak­ing ad­van­tage of em­ployer-spon­sored learn­ing is one thing, but you need to be in charge of your ca­reer. You need to make sure the cour­ses and pro­grams you be­come en­gaged in are en­hanc­ing your ca­reer rather than be­com­ing a prover­bial noose around your neck.

No one to­day can af­ford to be led down the wrong ca­reer path, as I was. You can’t make your ca­reer de­ci­sions based on ad­mi­ra­tion for a favourite un­cle, a sense of ap­pre­ci­a­tion from a sup­port­ive and en­cour­ag­ing boss or a strong sense of loy­alty to­ward an em­ployer. Nor in my view, should you be­come so spe­cial­ized that you’re thrown out of work when your in­dus­try sec­tor hits a ma­jor slump.

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