Some of the suggestions included ‘Water Authority Work‘, ‘Railway Management‘ and ‘Plastics Technology‘. My personal favourites were ‘Trading Standards Inspector‘ and ‘Automobile Engineering‘. To be fair, somewhere far down the list were ‘Librarian‘ and ‘Journalist‘, which are definitely closer to the mark that ‘Nuclear Engineering‘.
To their credit, my teacher at the time annotated the results with a note to the effect that there were some “surprising discrepancies” and that “we can ignore the engineering type jobs in view of the fact that Julian is not on good terms with maths“.
Whilst the extensive printout amused me greatly, it did make me ponder on those wider questions: how do you decide what to do? In fact, how did you end up where you are, and how will you decide where to go next? The indications are that a computer system is unlikely to provide you with answers!
In many ways, our communities have replaced this type of system with their own unique mechanisms of support: through our social networks we are more closely attuned to the vast range of jobs that people do and far more able to access the information about those jobs and required learning to make the change happen.
But how many people end up just sticking where they first land? How many people take active control of their personal development and really have a career plan? How many of us just lurch?
The Social Age presents us with many opportunities: there is no longer any such thing as a career for life. As the fundamental contract between employer and employee is broken, seeing people building portfolio careers and moving between employed and freelance status, so ownership of our long term development becomes our own.
Always and inevitably, organisations lapse into the pressures bought on by the state of constant change, and train us to do the job in hand. But who is training us for the job of tomorrow?
The NET Model of social leadership recognises the importance of Reputation: forged over time within our communities. Part of this reputation must be an ability to embrace change, to ride the waves, not flounder under them. We don’t want to be left at the mercy of the currents, swamped by the waves.
Organisations should really provide both resources and reflective space for this longer term personal development. To attract and retain the very best talent, it has to be clear that we will support them in both short and long term development needs. Whilst responsibility lies with the individual to ensure they are not left behind, the organisation can play it’s part by being a socially conscious employer, recognising the more fluid relationship between the two parties and that people naturally move on.
This is a challenge really: whilst my amusement at the QUEST system was that the range of suggestions were so diverse and varied, it did at least make me think. It did at least make clear that the responsibility for my ultimate destination at age 13 lay with me. And it still does at age 40. It does for you too: where will you go next, how will you build your reputation on the way?