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Career in the age of mobile apps

For a long time, the focus in career planning has been on the model of a “career ladder” and climbing it. The model considers that your career is like climbing up a ladder with the aim to reach the final step – to the top. It makes a notion that if you do not succeed in getting up there, you have failed. Thus we can see the division of people into two groups: those who tried to reach the top of the ladder and those who decided to stay on the “lower” steps. This model is quite sad and very linear, as Jenny Blake mentions in one of the Tedx videos. You can see the video below.

Firstly, the people who have reached the top of the ladder still want to develop further and their career is far from over.

Secondly, moving constantly to one direction means a lot of pressure to a person. You either reach the top or you have failed – what a mind job!

Thirdly, career ladder model is a closed system which means that once you have reached the goal, it makes you feel like this is it.

Career in the age of Mobile Applications

Jenny offers a new model in her presentation, which I really enjoy and which I believe is more accurate in today’s business environment and work models. The basis of this model is a fact that we all have so much more opportunities to develop and grow in the era we live in. All the paths are open, the mentality in the society is focused on the belief that you can achieve what you wish for and you do not work in the same company your whole life. Adding that the goal of your career is not to reach somewhere in the top meaning the end of your career, but your career can and will develop horizontally.

Of course, this hides a number of threats such as over-working, the constant need to develop and broaden your knowledge to stay on track. Acknowledging that, it is easier to make a break and write down your wishes career wise which help you create an adequate career plan and action plan to reach your professional personal brand.

The model Jenny introduced has been inspired by smartphones. She calls it the Career in the age of the App. Imagine a smartphone. When you get your smartphone, you can start adding multiple application which help you and make a regular phone into a unique and customized smartphone to your liking and needs. Now, think of yourself as this smartphone and think about all the skills, experiences, education, trainee-ships work and projects you have as “apps” that help you through your professional life. You yourself have made and can constantly make choices on what kind of skills you need to add and what you do not need for the next project, work, actvity; what apps to you need to work 24/7? What apps to you need to relax?

Smartphone-model is very dynamic, flowing and really non-linear way of thinking about you and your career. And why not life in general? You can make a choice on what to add. Be it a school you choose, people you meet and project you have.

Main principles

1. Every experience is unique. Everything you do should be viewed in the light of what kind of experience/skill/knowledge can be derived from it. Every job will teach you something new, something valuable however mundane or far from what you really want to do in your life. Even if the job you do right now is not YOUR JOB 100% , try to find something to learn from it. Maybe it is a skill to work in a team, a tecnical skill, maybe you get some really valuable contacts. This way you can “download” an app from every experience you have (had) and use it in the future making the set of unique applications you have more valuable and complete.

2. Dare to dream. It is important to realize that you do not have the whole picture, the Grand Plan and the reason you might need the little applications. We do not have to know at all times, HOW we reach the target – that makes the path to a goal more interesting and flexible, since the target itself may change while you are walking towards it. If we’d use the ladder model, the change of the initial target would ruin the whole model. In the App model you can move both vertically and horizontally, broadening your field and specialization and creating something new according to your personal experience or skill required.

3. If you do not feel well 100% at your current job, it’s OK. This is an important principle with the aim to save you from burnout. If back in the days the only way was to aim for the career ladder top to be considered really successful then now the top is not the most important thing. All your experiences are additions that will take you to your real success – to what you really want. You don’t need to aim for multiple university degrees and use all the opportunities. You need to choose the applications that you consider important, necessary and interesting. If there is something that does not fit anymore, you can just “delete” it. If you see that an application does not really work for you, take the best of it and give it up and download a new app. Don’t expect your work to satisfy you 100%, find other ways to express yourself.

Think about what you are working on now, is this way of life worth the price you are paying for it? Or should you consider a change of applications?

Some recommendations to keep in mind while designing your career:

1. Create borders and charge your batteries. All opportinities must not be taken, this is the easiest way to become stressed and blocked, leaving you to full restart that could help you. Smartphones use batteries a lot, so it is necessary to charge the batteries often so that you won’t lose the “picture”.

2. Revise your applications from time to time. Delete the ones you do not need or that do not function; add those you need or update the skills that are beginning to wear out.

3. Don’t ask for permission. When people are starting to tell you that you can’t make it or it is not possible, take those statements as confirmations that you are on the right track.

4. Create and lean on your network. Lean on people who support you. It takes time to reach your goals and is great to have someone to lean on during that time. It is a source of happiness, relaxation, confidence, inspiration and just generally a way to push you further.

To summarize all the above, I have to say again that you are Your Life’s (Creative) Director. Do create something that you love to live with. There are now lower or higher steps of the ladder anymore, the importance of your work and reaching to a certain top depends on your own decision about what is important.

Here is the video that inspires the blogpost:

Plan your career consciously and design your personal brand!