Career Development is Different for Everyone


Career development is somewhat of an ongoing process. I recently had dinner with a group of school girlfriends. While we are all still very early on in our careers, each of us is in a very different stage of our professional, and therefore career, development. What I found most fascinating throughout our conversation was the varied opinions about workplaces, colleagues, how each of us viewed our career development, and how much work meant or didn’t mean to each individual.

Almost everyone at the table had a different experience within the workforce. A few of the girls had started a degree, found out they didn’t enjoy the industry, and were now studying something entirely different. There were a few who were doing jobs to simply pay the rent and live the good life. A few of us also felt we were finally working in an area that we really wanted to be in. The way in which we had gotten to where we currently are was the most interesting part. As the saying goes, it’s the journey, not the destination.

We all had a myriad of experiences with bosses, colleagues, and various workplaces. Some were good and some bad, but listening to the various experiences, there were a few themes that arose with regards to career development.

  • Colleagues – They play a big role in how people view their workplaces and how long people will stay in certain organisations. The level of socialising outside of work so that colleagues become friends is also something that some people mentioned as important.
  • Professional development – How much an organisation is willing to invest in their people reflect employees’ commitment to the organisation.
  • Autonomy – How much each person is allowed to do their own thing as compared to having someone looking over their shoulder affects whether they enjoy their work or not.
  • Career progression – With no upward momentum, people dislike their jobs, but with development initiatives in place they become highly engaged.

Career development is different for everyone – it depends what you want out of your career, where you want to go and how much professional success and development mean to you. Some people simply want to turn up to work each day, get their work done, and leave. Some want it to take them higher and higher up the professional ladder. Some want work to be meaningful and give them purpose, while also giving them the ability to live the life they want outside of work.

However, a strong theme that keeps coming up is that people have only gotten to where they are and know what they want by talking to as many people as possible. They have found mentors and actively engage themselves in their work life. Over the years I have done various work-experience roles, volunteer roles, and worked with people a lot older than I. This has always been something I have loved, as there is so much to learn from people who have had so much more experience than myself. To me, this is what career development is all about – learning from others, speaking to people with different life experiences, and being prepared to challenge and put yourself out there; even if it does make you uncomfortable.

I would love to hear your thoughts, what does career development mean to you and where or from whom have you learned the most?

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