The new ambition: the generation redefining their careers
Still trying to climb the corporate career ladder? How 20th century. For many young professionals, career 'success' now means something different
A few years ago I hit a point in my career that nobody talks about at networking events, in mentoring sessions or on The Apprentice: gazing up the career ladder and realising that you don’t want to go there.
In fact, I felt like I’d already gone a rung too far. I was 29, fiercely ambitious and a features editor at a glossy fashion magazine. A dream job, really, and a year earlier, as a staff writer on another title, I’d identified that precise role as the gilded, probably unobtainable next rung on my way to the job I always thought I wanted – a magazine editorship. Until now I believed my career path would be as direct and succinct as an author’s biography on a book jacket.
My problem was I’d been promoted out of what I loved doing, which is writing. I was so busy climbing the ladder I never stopped to ask myself the most important question of all: what do you want to spend your day doing? For me, it wasn’t editing other people’s writing, or going to meetings or managing other people.
You’d imagine that we would have the choice to revert to a previous role, explaining that we prefer the view from the rung below. But the only way to descend the corporate structure is via a snake – not a dignified route (involving being sacked, some sort of industry-wide disgrace or a stress-induced breakdown).