Following the post on Portfolio Careers – don’t choose, combine! I received many requests for follow up on the world of work in the eyes of the younger generation, those who build a portfolio career rather than define themselves in terms of job and profession. Learning from examples and personal stories is usually most effective, so I asked a young entrepreneur his permission to share his story as an example for a Millennial career.
I met Avi Snir for a coffee conversation, as part of a serendipity strategy. I highly recommend these no-agenda meetings, those who bring you in contact with your weak links and open up worlds, ideas, and opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise encounter. And so I met Avi through the recommendation of a mutual acquaintance, who had heard my keynote on the changing world of work and suggested I meet an entrepreneur in his mid-thirties, who’s resume already boasts a couple of successful careers and a current entrepreneurship.
That in itself was for me a great place to begin the conversation. A few years ago, a CV of 3 different careers in 10 years would have been an indication we should ask questions about the candidates stability, seriousness, responsibility, commitment… And yet Avi’s story was one of passion, clear purpose and a well thought out plan.
So I asked Avi to help me understand the path he has taken and the changes he’s made. “For my generation, it is important to do what we love and love what we do.”
This can be a challenge for those who have already taken steps on their professional path or maybe even have about twenty years of experience, yet find themselves questioning the choices they’ve made. So the question is, if you’ve discovered you no longer enjoy your work and are no longer passionate about your job or career, should your commitment to financial stability, family or perceptions keep you on that same path? Or is this the time to consider a change?
Avi represents the generation for whom the answer to these questions is clear, which also explains the changes he has made in his career. “I started out in the military, feeling very passionate about my job. But as I moved up the ladder I discovered I was moving away from what I enjoyed, so I resigned. I wasn’t sure exactly what my career path would look like, but I did know education in Law and Business would provide a good baseline, so I studies a combined degree in Law and Business Administration.”
But Avi did not spend much time practicing law either, only as long as he deemed it necessary to complete his training and gain relevant experience. “As soon as I felt I had a strong enough baseline understanding, I decided to leave and move to the next phase of my career.”
This is an odd decision for those of us who attribute careers with job stability. Once you settle on a path, especially if the comfort zone is really comfortable, it is difficult to make decisions to leave it all behind and move on. But Avi considered his education and experience part of his journey and not the objective. Which is probably why he did not feel the need to be defined by a single profession.
Avi and his generation consider job stability a myth stemming from social convention. But to them, this is a story of the past, when there was a high correlation between your education and the career path which opened to you as you graduated. In that world, you found a job based on your profession, moving up the corporate ladder until retirement. Job stability was external, in the hands of the employer – the ability to retain your job and get receive a regular salary.
“Today, we live in a world where the career path is comprised of a portfolio of micro careers. You find yourself navigating numerous opportunities and possibilities. The only real stability is internal, your own security in your capabilities, your fields of interest and knowledge and your passion for your career.”
You might be wondering, what would you do if you have no job security and you do not know if the time, money and effort you’ve invested in your education will pave your career path. How do you navigate your career? “First of all, I know that my education in itself will not define my career path. Understanding this is an important baseline for planning my career. In today’s world, one needs to understand one’s strengths and capabilities and where they intersect with the job market. And with every job you do, you need to be thinking about the tools you are adding to your backpack, if and how they are helping you become better at what you love doing. If you don’t adopt this as your regular way of thinking, you might go to sleep with a pack of film and wake up to a world of digital cameras. Whether you are a salaried employee or self-employed, we are all entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs of our own career path.”
In this day and age, we should all be viewing our careers as a brand. If, in the past, our work identity was our profession and maybe even the company we worked for, today its email@example.com. In this company you that is You, you are the CEO, the manager for your own Development, for Finance and for Marketing. You are also the product manager, the product that is You.
For Avi, a Millennial, all this was very natural. “As odd as this may sound, people who see themselves as a type of product find creative ways to develop and brand that product. That product – you, yourself, your career, your skills, the value you bring wherever you go and whatever you do whether it is with a company, a project, as an entrepreneur or a freelancer.”
This allows Avi and his generation not to depend externally on job security, to separate their security from an organization and redefine it as security relying internally, on their own expertise and capabilities.
Avi chose his next career path based on this insight, and together with his partners established the Elevation Academy, an academy for entrepreneurship and technology. “Our goal is through training courses to give people the tools required in the 21st century, and help them find their career path in the online world.” The idea behind it is simple. If you are responsible for your own career, you also own understanding the changes in your environment and what you need to know in order to remain relevant in the changing world of work.
So the next time you read an article about jobs being replaced by robots or software, ask yourself if your skills, job, profession are at risk. Then ask yourself if you know your capabilities, what value you can bring to anyone who wants to hire you or may work with you or for you. And ask yourself every day if you are up to date on relevant knowledge and skills and how can you innovate and grow in your area of work. Take responsibility to do whatever it takes, to grow, develop, evolve and dare to change. Whatever is required to move you forward on the path to your most important role – firstname.lastname@example.org