WHAT Career Path?

Turning things around and looking at them upside down. Nothing like it in

Now I'm really mad

Come again?

the world. For instance: take another look at the idea of “career paths”. One favorite image is the “career ladder“. This evokes an arrangement of positions placed in vertical succession lowest to highest. The other favorite image is of a journey that begins at “point a” and ends at “point b” like Mapquest directions output. Notice how in each of these images the way is as straight as a gunshot going through a house in the projects–in through the front door and straight out through the back door because both doors are perfectly in line. Note also that the ladders always go “up” and the paths always go “ahead”.

I see denial of the real in these images. Neither of them acknowledges detours or potholes for goodness sake! Anyone who has ever traveled on any kind of conveyance public or private knows that delays, detours, washed out bridges, roads under repair, bumps, holes in the road, construction delays, closed exits and accidents along the way may arise in any trip. People get stuck in airports; get lost; pass their exits; arrive at the depot late; miss the train. None of the common things that happen in life is acknowledged in the so-called, “career path” or “career ladder” image of a working lifetime.

questions, questions


Question: is there really such a thing as a “career path” or is that just a mythical /artificial social construct? I say it’s a mythical and artificial social construct; a bit of “wishery“. Do these ladders and paths always go up or ahead in a straight line? There seems to be a general assumption that they do. Here is the big one–what if the road traveled in a career lifetime is not a road at all? What if there is no real guarantee that it will go up?

Suppose the road is really a spiral or a helix? That would mean that there is some kind of central core and we live life circling around that central core in a spiraling progression. Work/career is but a series of knots on that helix revisited again and again. The direction may go up, move across or reverse in the opposite direction at any time in life.

wrong turn takes rabbit way out of the way.

missed the exit

In my short lifetime I have seen roads reduce to paths that get lost into the bush; streets with dead ends; wrong turns on the way to Piscataway, New Jersey that somehow end up in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Do potential employers or recruiters understand the same thing could happen with careers?