I was at a gathering of friends recently and was introduced to a few millennials who were very energizing and engaging. At one point the conversation turned to what we all do for a living. When I mentioned that I have a career in Human Services and Human Resources, one of the new crowd asked– “why do you call this a career and not just a whole bunch of jobs?” She went on to say: “I think unless you have passion for something, it is merely a job and that we delude ourselves into believing that we have purposefully formed a career out of just several jobs.”
Of course I was instantly snagged by the philosophical aspects of her comment and after a brief moment of thought responded: “Well, a person with a career orientation focuses on the parts of that job that are related to success or prestige. They become interested in upward movement either to get more titles, pay raises or both and they are not simply interested in a paycheck. In fact, some might even say that they would do their job even if they weren’t being paid for it.”
She went on to say: “Well, I think it is always just a job and a means to an end.” So, I said to the young lady, “you said earlier that you were passionate about clothing design which made me think that you would find your way into having a career that would allow you to express your skills in design through the positions you might hold, or possibly a company that you might form. Is that right?” She said yes, and I went on, “then I would say that you have a ‘calling’ of sorts and that the jobs you hold, wherein you have the ability to achieve self-fulfillment through self-expression, are all integral to your life. This in turn will help you to bring more meaning to your work and as such, will shape this into a general course of progression towards lifelong goals. That to me would constitute a career.”
There was an Ah-Ha moment, everyone smiled and the conversation morphed into an exciting collage of stories relating to recounting our happiest moments at work.
So, I ask you, knowing that a job and a career are not necessarily exclusive ideas, would you say you have a job or a career? What are you passionate about?