Who do you want to be when you grow up?

As a child, I remember being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was never able to give a definitive answer, because I wanted to do so many things! It was hard to make up my mind either way with all of the available options in front of me. Why pick one? No doubt this is a good problem to have. The world of possibilities is endless when you’re young. But as we get older, the road gets a little narrower and sometimes we find ourselves in a job that is entirely different from the one we imagined as a child. Our career path is not as straight and even as we were told it would be.

There is no doubt the workforce is changing. In the past, an employee would work for a company for 30 or 40 years, retire, and live on pension for the remainder of their days. Now, an average person goes through 7 career changes prior to retirement. That’s quite a lot of changes in one life time! Sometimes these changes result in an entirely new position or career path, other times it can be a similar position but in a different environment or capacity. And once in these positions, it is tempting to never look back on our old jobs. However, rather than think of these changes as separate and unrelated to one another, how about seeing them as one long continuum of experiences and connections, woven together with accomplishments, expertise, networks and developed skills? When I look at my client’s resumes, I ask myself, what is this person’s story? What is the underlying theme here? Understanding and accepting your past work life and seeing how it fits into your story makes a world of difference. The common interview question, “Tell me about yourself” is no longer painful or awkward when you become comfortable with your past and understand it’s meaning.

Because of the changing workforce, an emerging trend in the career development field is what is called The Career Portfolio. When we think of portfolio, photography, modeling and ating professions may come to mind, but it is now being applied to any seasoned professional who has gained a multitude of skills, knowledge and expertise throughout their work life. Once you understand the theme of your work life, creating a portfolio becomes easy, as you compile your experiences, both related and unrelated, together to create your story.

Instead of the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, perhaps the question we should be asking our children is, “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” Because ultimately, our story follows us wherever we go, and our unique contributions are just that - unique and one of a kind.

Wendy Rhodes



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