Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The ‘Career Path’ Myth

One of the things I disliked most in my 20 off-and-on years of corporate life was the dreaded Interview Question: where do you see yourself in 2 years? In 5 years? 

How to answer a question like that when the world today is not what it was yesterday…or what it will be tomorrow? 

“Not answering stupid questions like this” is what I longed to say. Or, “Doing something wildly interesting whose job description probably doesn’t even exist today.” Or, “working for myself.” (Even if at the time I had no vision of what that would be; I knew I would one day.)

But no, one had to play the game. If, for instance, you were looking for a marketing-related job, you had to act like you had thoughtfully mapped out the appropriate zigzags throughout the marketing functions from entry level to some management pinnacle -- even when you had no designs on ever being a manager. (Some might think a good description of hell is being a first line manager, squeezed between the people you are charged with leading and developing -- and your manager who follows the commands of those who are now so far removed from where the rubber hits the road that they have lost any semblance of real world understanding.)

I once had a manager’s manager say in front of a large group of people that I (yes, the “I” refers to me) was a manager’s worst nightmare: someone who had been known to just ‘up and leave’ one day, to pursue my own interests

So now do I know what I’ll be doing 5 years from now? Hell, I don’t even know what I’m doing today sometimes – until an errant muse hits and I’m off and running…

No comments: