Careers Are A Myth
I can’t be the only one who remembers taking career path tests as early as elementary school. They were meant to gauge what kind of college degree we should get, what kind of vocations we were going to adopt for the rest of our lives. We didn’t want to waste time, after all.
So, we took our tests. Doctor, lawyer, business owner. We went to college, got our degrees. The loans were worth it, we’d be able to pay them back once we get those good paying jobs we’ve been on track for since we hit puberty.
But the jobs aren’t there. Or they are, but they’re paying substantially less now. Maybe they’re paying the same, but companies don’t promote from within anymore. To get a raise, you have to quit your current firm, move to another one and build your connections up all over again.
The system we were taught doesn’t exist anymore. You don’t join one company and stay on until you retire. Your industry may well become redundant before you’d have the chance to anyway.
Careers are a myth.
Jobs aren’t, of course. We still find ways to pay the bills while juggling student loans and rapidly rising rents that aren’t even close to being matched by the salaries our employers pay us. We take on multiple jobs, drive for Lyft or Uber on weekends. We don’t take vacations, because who can afford them?
We go where the money is.
A lot of people in my generation feel like failures for not being able to follow the model we were taught, but the fact of the matter is: that model is dead. We aren’t failures, the model is. The business owners in the generations above us who are content to line their own pockets while refusing to raise our wages at a decent rate are. We have no choice but to jump from company to company – we know that the reward we receive for working hard and doing a good job isn’t a promotion and a raise, it’s more work and another person’s job at the same rate.
We’re also dealing with a rapidly changing society. Who would have thought that print books and newspapers would be a failing industry? Or physical media in general? No one buys Blu-ray players anymore, and those have only been on the market for about a decade and a half.
Switching careers frequently may be our key to survival. If you went to college at all, maybe you got a degree in something general, your typical liberal arts degree. You work for a while as a receptionist, and when you can’t move up, you go into social media instead. And when the digital landscape changes, as it inevitably does, you switch gears and try real estate.
Lack of stability is the necessary sacrifice of the world we’re trying to survive now. The career path is now mythological, whispered about and attained by few. Now we live to work a series of jobs, living paycheck to paycheck and wondering if next year we’ll be able to finally afford a home.