Do You Fear Getting Stuck in a Career?

By Scott Kuethen, CEO of Amtec

I recently ran across the following well-written Facebook post from my young, entrepreneurial friend Matthew Gallizzi. If you’re a millennial like him, you’ll relate to the valid fear he expresses over having to find a life-long career in a rapidly evolving world. You can read my response at the end of his post. Thanks, Matthew, for letting me share your valuable thoughts with our readers.

The idea of a “career” freaks me out.

The idea of doing something for a very long time (decades) does not seem appealing.

This may be rooted in constant change that my generation has been raised with.

I talk with dozens of young adults and everyone seems to be in a quest to “find their career”.

I tell people what I do and they often ask, “is that your career?”

I have no idea. In this moment, that is what I am doing, and I am at peace with it.

The thing is: younger generations have the privilege to find their life’s work.

Older generations didn’t have this privilege. They had to work to make a living and they did what they could to feed the family. I respect that.

The challenge? The challenge happens when a bunch of 20-somethings are graduating college trying to get their “career” started. It’s like a curse word. 

Ok, maybe this idea isn’t resonating, let me try another angle:

Society is evolving too quickly for careers to be sustainable. If jobs aren’t going to get replaced by a piece of software then it’ll be a piece of hardware (robots, anyway?).

It’s not a matter of if, but when, for many jobs.

Oh, and by the way, colleges don’t care about the sustainability of their programs. They’re in the money making business and they’re not going to tell you that the history degree you paid for is borderline worthless. 

Fine, some jobs require certain degrees. And how long will those jobs be around?

Education is being disrupted by new forms of teaching online.

Manual labor jobs are being replaced by robots (thanks, Amazon!).

You live in special times right now. Opportunity is everywhere. It’s all around us. The evolving workforce is demanding that you step up to become better. 

It won’t happen today, or tomorrow, but it’s coming.

What are you doing to prepare?

Oh…I can’t leave this one alone. Such great thinking, Matthew.  I’d like to respectfully challenge your concept of a career. Several decades ago, renowned  business thinker Peter Drucker proclaimed that we are entering a new age of the knowledge worker.  This concept was/is a departure from the way you’re using the word “career.” 

A career isn’t a static function or task; rather it’s a gradual process of gaining and applying new knowledge. A career is made up of discovering your unique competencies, gifting, and strengths and then discovering how you prefer to apply them to satisfy your soul. 

This isn’t static. It’s dynamic. When I talk to adults early in their work life, I like to ask them what they’d like to be able to articulate on their resume one year from today that is not already there (we can later debate the value of resumes or lack thereof).

This seems to be a foreign thought to most. The question we all need to answer is, Where are we headed? There will be seasons where we are focused on deepening our mastery in a specific area or skill. There will be other times when we are drawn to add new areas of competence compatible with our core strengths.  

Whether you know it or not, you are a knowledge worker. Today’s worker is being paid to apply what they know, more than to carry out a task. After thousands of these conversations with knowledge workers, it’s my belief that they’ve not been called upon to think about what they want out of the work they do. This is a scary thought because there’s been little to no preparation to answer this question. And the answer should be different for each of us. 

What inspires us? What satisfies us? Honestly, what would we do if we didn’t need to earn a living? Is there something we’re compelled to do or act upon? This, then, is our career, or maybe we could ditch the word career and exchange it for a calling. 

With a degree in art, I began my post-college work life as a deputy sheriff. I quickly learned a lot about myself. Mostly I learned that I didn’t like that life of shift work, and carrying a gun didn’t appeal much to me either. I grew up in a gang-ridden town but never needed a gun.  I also learned that I loved talking to and learning about people.

Little did I know how well this skill I picked up in law enforcement was preparing me for something else. Years later, once I had been in the recruiting business a while, I saw the connection. I employed my gift of asking good questions by interviewing people and learning about their strengths, competencies, and the various ways they’ve applied them. I discovered how to use this passion in a career…oops, I meant to say calling. 

We all have unique gifting. How can we find satisfaction in the contributions we make unless we begin the journey and pay attention to who we are along the way? Within the first year, I learned I should not be in law enforcement. It took two more years to find a way to exit. I’m so glad I did.

Matthew, you’re right where you should be today, as was I when I was a deputy. It’s likely you began the work you’re doing today with a better life foundation than I. You’re brighter and more thoughtful than I was back then. 

Challenging the idea of a static career is the right thing for all of us. Discovering how we will uniquely apply our strengths, competencies, and gifting in ways that satisfy our souls is the hard, mysterious work no one else can do for us.

Is a skills gap affecting your career?

Is your resume already in our database? We’d like to continue to share career information and job market opportunities with you. Click here to “Join our Talent Network” and give us a brief update on you. You’ll receive emails from us when a position that matches your interest becomes available. Nothing satisfies us more than making a great match! We look forward to providing you insights and opportunities to grow your career.

Amtec Bitz Newsletters

Essential industry highlights & expert insights every month.

Related Posts

View all posts