There’s a lot written today about what’s becoming a new norm – a natural progression of career change through our lives. In my early career days, shifting careers was perceived as drifting – “can’t make up your mind, has commitment issues.” Today, it can depict flexibility and the ability to embrace change not in spite of life changes, but because of them.
Flexibility is not just a handy trait, it’s a necessity in today’s job market. It needs to be developed as a skill if it is struggled with naturally. As one who commenced her working life in the early ‘90’s and moved around until I found the right fit, today’s circumstantial career shifting fits the bill perfectly.
This journey to my own marketing consultancy has been a path with several new beginnings, each one taking a new direction and paving the way to fresh experiences. Still, this one may be the one that requires the most energy, focus and reinvention.
When I started my career, I loved the thrill of new beginnings. The excitement of the next job and the wobbles the night before the first day were at odds, but the experience undeniably valuable. One of the most necessary skills in the early 1990’s was typing. The world of tech was just beginning and as I hot-footed off to London like many an Irish person before me, I found myself extremely employable with my 120 wpm speed. I chose to temp until I decided if London was for me. In and out of companies from Penguin Books, Readers’ Digest, Morgan Grenfell, Shell, General Medical Council, and Granada Television to name a few, created an adaptability and embracing of change that I am grateful for today. Yes, it gets harder as we get older and realize the next generation have skill sets we don’t possess yet (we can work on that). However, rather than being hard on ourselves we need to focus on what skills and experience we do have. A notion at odds with growing up in Ireland in the 1980’s where self-promotion was generally perceived as arrogance. Today, thankfully, we know that recognizing and valuing what you are good at drives success.
During four years in London, my skills improved and I found my ability to adapt from PC’s to Macs and all the software became second nature. After many ‘first mornings’, I settled into a career in public relations for which I was qualified. The benefit of experience I gained from those companies for which I temped became the bedrock of my career path. I moved into marketing for a tour operator company, gained Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK) qualifications, then back to Ireland before moving to the US and landing my dream job. After eight wonderful years of stability and total job satisfaction, came the next life stage – parenting. With the demands of international work travel too much for a new mom, I was fortunate to be able to join at the stay-at-home movement – the experience of which is content for another day. Suffice to say, no matter which direction your career takes you – the pleasant daily familiarity of a 30 year position, or a shifting career due to life stages and changes, neither should be belittled as boring or flighty until we understand each other’s life situations and recognize the decisions they have created. Ultimately, it is a good thing that changing career is no longer a negative and that the stamina and experience it creates is recognized in today’s job market.