I recently heard about a Twitter meme called #firstsevenjobs. A meme, if you don’t know, is an activity or image spread rapidly by internet users.
The objective with this particular meme is to list your first seven jobs, starting from the first time you received pay from someone other than your parents.
Some of the lists show how far we’ve come as a society. Here is Buzz Aldrin’s list:
“Dishwasher. Camp counselor. Fighter pilot. Astronaut. Commandant. Speaker. Author . . . now Global Space Statesman!”
How the world has changed since Aldrin’s first job in the late 1940s, when man only dreamed of walking on the moon, to today, when we actually have a call for a global space statesman.
Aldrin’s career trajectory was fairly linear — not a lot of weaving but rather rocket-ship-like propulsion to astronaut status and beyond. The career progression of most of us is not that direct.
For example, here are my #firstsevenjobs:
Impersonating Jack of Jack in the Box for kids’ parties (yes, in 1975 they actually had a Jack costume).
Arts and crafts camp counselor.
Food company salesperson (Dole, Pepsi, M&M/Mars).
Transformation officer (relocating market research jobs to cost-saving locations).
Life-planning coach . . . now national advocate for seniors and family caregivers.
I can see how each step occurred, but if anyone had asked me to imagine my career path 40 years ago, I never would have come up with any of these jobs, let alone this career trail.
There seem to be some common factors as to why we have job transitions — further education, geographic moves, career advancement, market forces, life transitions and serendipity. I assume these factors account for most career changes.
But more importantly, it seems like the concept of a “career” that is managed and purposeful is one that may disappear with Aldrin’s generation. Most of us probably can’t imagine jobs that will be around even five years from now.
The bad news for college students declaring majors today is that it’s likely they will not remain in the field in which they were trained, and that will cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The good news for those of us on the other side of 50 is that we will have greater job options as new markets and industries arise.
Our “job” as baby boomers and beyond will be to stay open to change and be willing to learn new skills.