Picking a Career Is Not Like Choosing a Mate

Picking a Career Is Not Like Choosing a Mate


Picking a Career Is Not Like Choosing a Mate

The choice of a career is not a “til death do us part” proposition. Even though it was once the norm to collect a “gold watch” for 30 years of service to the same company, or to look forward to a pension from a single employer upon retirement, that is no longer even a remote possibility for most of the nation’s workforce.

In view of the current mobility of today’s employees, is it even reasonable to expect that a college student pick a future career path? With ever-increasing costs of higher education, might it not be a more valid option for high school graduates today to seek a comprehensive and diverse education, or even to take time off to travel prior to declaring a major, and certainly before pursuing an advanced degree? “Going back to school” after entering the workforce, sometimes with the blessing of and financial assistance from an employer is certainly an option.

Changing times require altered paradigms. Current concerns for young people center on college costs, employment opportunities, and long-term goals. Starting salary and potential earnings growth in any career field are important considerations. There is no denying that college graduates earn more lifetime dollars than non-graduates.

Statistics confirm, however, that many people will change jobs 10 or more times during the course of a lifetime. One Bureau of Labor Statistics study of Baby Boomers found the average to be 11.3 different jobs between the ages of 18 and 46. Studies, however, have made no effort to track career changes in the same way, owing to a lack of definition about exactly what can be termed a career change. Author Marci Alboher, a self-described “amasser of slashes” (lawyer/journalist/writing coach/author), speaks of living a multidisciplinary life.

That is the ability a “liberal arts” education bestows on a young student, in one sense, because a basic knowledge of a lot of subjects can form the foundation for further learning. A respected business executive of a retail chain decades ago told new employees that he didn’t mind if they knew little about the specifics of business or merchandising.

“If you have learned how to think in your classes, and you are willing to work hard, I can teach you everything you need to know about this business.” As a leader of Massachusetts-based Zayre Corp., he did just that, creating loyal employees as well as a strong business model that at one time operated as the nation’s fifth-largest retailer. Today, TJ Maxx is its best-known descendant.