Career change, transition, leaps. In a job market where Gen Z professionals stay at one job for only 8 months on average, what will careers look like? The future of work requires people who are adaptable and open to change, capable of reskilling and upskilling, forward-looking and in charge of their own development: the road to personal fulfillment seems to be zig-zagging.
From intensive bootcamps to the concept of transferable skills: here are 3 stories of growth, mentorship and learning that show why in the upcoming years we’ll be hearing more and more about this expression: non-linear careers.
Yuval Keshtcher is mainly known as the founder of UX Writing Hub, but it would be an understatement to stop there. After enrolling in law school, he started his journey as a graphic designer, then moved to UX design, gradually becoming a content creator and a community builder for the UX community – and eventually ending up as an entrepreneur helping novice UX professionals.
Just 30-40 years ago such a tale would probably feel strange. In the past, the prospect in front of you was simple: a corporate ladder. Earn a degree, get an entry-level job related to your field of study, climb the company’s hierarchy, and, finally, retire.
This was the simple, linear and expected path – one that cannot reflect today’s ever-evolving economy, let alone the future as it is being shaped by global game-changing trends. Just think about automation, which by 2025 is projected to simultaneously replace 85 million jobs and drive the creation of 97 million new ones (World Economic Forum, 2020)
In a world where only 27% of graduates have a job directly related to their major, how can adult education adapt to satisfy the new needs of the job market? Meet intensive bootcamps: highly-specialized courses which redirect students, channeling their core academic skills towards employment areas that initially might not have been on their radar.
If you want an example, look no further than Yuval’s UX Writing Academy. Combining his experience and expertise, Yuval is helping students from a diverse range of backgrounds – journalism, English literature, video editing, you name it – to transition into UX writing in just 6 months.
Alexandra Spark is … well, it is pretty difficult to define her professionally. From advertising to content management, passing to technical writing, her work path has been diverse. The final step happened just recently when she jumped to UX Writing thanks to Yuval Keshtcher’s UX Writing Academy. And “jumping” is the appropriate word because, as she puts it, her work-related decisions can only be described as leaps of faith. There were four in her life, and they were all driven by a “kind of burning and tingling at the same time”. And the last one happened …
The hunt led her to discover content, tools, mentors, and projects that would build her new-found dream: to become the UX professional she is now. Alexandra’s story is a great example of an almost paradoxical truth related to nonlinear careers: doing it on purpose might be the best way to succeed in it.
Career planning doesn’t need to be linear and can purposely seek out leaps and turns. But, to do that, self reflection is key – before moving into unknown territories, you need to know yourself first. In particular, it’s important to be self-aware about:
The constants of your life, indicating what’s meaningful and worthwhile to you.
Concrete visualizations of how you’re going to make your passions a job.
Both in the sense of the value you can add and your personal values.
Nii Ato Bentsi-Enchill is the founder and head career coach at Avenir Careers, but that wasn’t his dream job – it wasn’t even on his radar before 2011. Unexpected twists and turns led him to found his own business, with the goal of helping countless people like him own their story by finding a thread in their nonlinear careers paths.
So, how can you do that? How can you find the thread of your nonlinear career development path? According to Nii Ato, reflection is critical in three main areas:
Seeing and solving the same problems in different contexts and situations, hence the possibility to provide unique perspectives and solutions
The toolbox you honed through multiple experiences - and that can be transferred to other teams, departments, roles, fields and situations.
What you achieved, what you can bring thanks to your unique path, and how you’ll continue to positively influence those around you.