BY FRÉDÉRIC, MENTOR ON MY JOB GLASSES AND MANAGING DIRECTOR @ ASSATÉ EXECUTIVE
When you are young, you often wonder about the job(s) you will occupy later on and ask yourself the following question: which career path should I be taking?
Rather than keeping these questions to yourself, you may contact seasoned professionals to understand the different paths and life events that lead them towards one profession rather than another.
Late December, during the end-of-the-year holiday, I decided to get in touch with multiple experienced professionals (15+ years of experience) from my own network with the aim of sharing their different backgrounds with you. The idea behind this project of mine is to help you putting orientation into perspective and to offer you some inspiration, whether you are still studying or have already stepped into the labour market.
EDUCATION AND NETWORK, TWO KEY PILLARS IN ONE’S PROFESSIONAL ORIENTATION
The first person I interviewed is an interior designer, and here’s what she had to say in a nutshell: “In high school, there weren’t really any subjects that interested me, but I knew I was attracted to arts, particularly drawing and theatre, which I took as extracurricular activities. At the time, I would have totally loved getting involved in a musical. Art school seemed to be the only possible path for me and I finally chose to enter the École des Arts Décoratifs. After five years of education, I developed a broad interest in culture and arts. Later on, my career was built around meetings and opportunities: becoming an interior designer was not something I had decided from the beginning!
Lesson #1: You can discover new professions during your studies, by detecting unexpected opportunities or by taking side roads.
WHEN IT COMES TO CAREER GUIDANCE, SOMETIMES APPETITE COMES WITH EATING
It was then the turn of a publisher and author to share her thoughts with us: “I didn’t choose my profession: it’s my profession that presented itself. I studied archaeology and art history, which today are far-related from my job. I also did a course in DTP reading and correction, which later helped me entering the labour market. It was out of necessity that I first became a proofreader. Later on, I became an author.
Lesson #2: You don’t have to choose a career, sometimes a career can come to you!
CHANGING CAREER PATHS ONCE AFTER HAVING WORKED FOR A WHILE
I also interviewed a HRD who, after 20 years of solid experience, had reached a relevant position: “After studying at Sciences Po, I first looked for a job where I could exercise my creativity. This is why I chose a communications agency. Then, over time, I realised that people were at the heart of my concerns, so I turned to human resources.
Lesson #3: Your desires and motivations can change over time, which should not be seen as an obstacle or a problem, quite the contrary!
CAREER ORIENTATION: THINKING ABOUT YOUR DESIRES OR FOLLOWING THE ADVICE OF THOSE AROUND YOU?
In recent years, there has been a strong trend towards career change (as a reminder, 65% of American workers are actively searching for a new full-time job right now).
It is not uncommon for a person to choose a specific profession and moving on to another after some time. Here is what this young cheese maker tells us: “Following the advice of my beloved ones, I studied at Sciences Po to be able to join the administration at a European level. I ended up working in digital communication for 8 years before having the chance to manage teams. After feeling the need to move on to something more concrete, I retrained as a cheese maker. This has been my profession for three years now and I’m as happy as ever.
Lesson #4: Listen to yourself as much as possible from the beginning of your career and avoid following the path that others have imagined for you if you feel that it is not the right one for you.
WHEN CAREER GUIDANCE MEETS A FINANCIAL NEEDS
It is perhaps necessary to remind everybody that having career choices is a privileged not everyone can enjoy. The path chosen by some professionals may respond strictly to financial needs in some occasions. This is the case of this caretaker that declares: “We don’t always choose what we want to do. My education and diplomas were not recognised in France and I had to quickly find a job to support my three children.”
Lesson #5: Sometimes life forces us to make certain decisions and there is not much room for choices.
CAREER CHOICES THAT COMBINE PASSION AND SKILLS
The testimony of a digital manager also allows us to take a step back:
“I’ve been lucky enough to have had a wide variety of experiences in my career: marketing education, production in the art, web and theatre industries and finally in a cultural institution. I have always tried to work in arts, which I am passionate about, but it has not always been easy! Production and digital skills have become essential to succeed in this field.
Lesson #6: It is possible to combine a profession (in the digital field) with an industry (culture) to enjoy be able to make a living out of your two passions.
RECONSIDERING YOUR CAREER PATH WHEN FACING NEW OPTIONS
We close this round of testimonials with this editorial secretary, who became passionate about her job after having worked in a completely different sector: “After about ten years in the tourism industry, I wanted to switch companies. Following a job opening, I joined the works council of a press group. After discovering new exciting jobs, I retrained to become an editorial secretary.
Lesson #7 : In the course of a career, unsuspected opportunities can arise. Therefore, one must remain open-minded and even retrain if necessary.
HOW CAN YOU FIND YOUR WAY?
Professional life is not all blue skies and rainbows. You may intend to choose a stable career, but life can decide otherwise.
1. Start by getting to know yourself. Ask yourself the right questions to find out what you want to do and what you don’t, what work environment suits you best, what industry do you see yourself in, etc.
2. Then multiply your experiences: it will necessarily be more difficult for you to understanding what you like without knowing the real deal. This will also allow you to learn about the different types of structures and working methods in order to identify those that are best suited for your profile.
3. Talk to professionals whenever you have the opportunity (I strongly recommend you My Job Glasses, where I volunteer as mentor!). See these meetings as a chance to learn more about professionals’ backgrounds and to ask for advice on how to move forward with your career plan. By involving people who are not directly affected by your decisions, you will benefit from a more objective view. This will not prevent you from making your own decisions, but an external opinion will surely prove useful!
Do you want to know more about Frédéric and his role as Managing Director? Click here to contact him on My Job Glasses!