By Heather Ette, Marketing Officer, Belina Consulting
Last year Liz Sewell wrote a blog about the #50 Year Career and how the employment landscape has changed, particularly for women. Young people leaving school this summer are likely to be working for a minimum of fifty years before they are entitled to their pension. Whilst women have traditionally led quite fragmented careers due to long breaks to bring up children, times are a changing and the world of work is very different now to how it was 50 years ago.
This led me to thinking about what the 50 year career actually means and reflecting on what my 70 year old self might look back on in my career. What will be the highlights? Which moments from my career were defining? What would I do differently if I had the chance?
I guess it starts with education. Did I really achieve all I was capable of or could I have done more? Should I have tried harder and perhaps looked into Further Education to strengthen what I had already learned? As a Mother I continuously drum into my children the importance of getting the best education they can so that they can widen the opportunities available to them when they reach a working age. I have to say that when I was at school in the 80’s it seemed less important and the world of work didn’t seem quite as daunting as perhaps it does for young people today.
I had a modest education in a London state school but it served to secure me a job with my local council where I took all the opportunities that were afforded to me. I began my career in the typing pool at the age of 17 and took every chance I had to hone my skills, taking Evening Classes in Shorthand so that I could apply for a secretarial position as soon as one became available. I was lucky enough to be offered the job of a newly created role that involved providing temporary cover to the Council’s 20 or so secretaries when they were absent. This gave me a thorough understanding and knowledge of every departmental area in the local authority and served me well when I joined the first ever Local Authority Marketing Department in Enfield.
I never looked back from that moment on. Marketing was the career for me and it has served me well over the past 30 years. I have worked in a range of public and private sector organisations in industries including entertainment, leisure, transport, IT and now employability. It has provided me with versatility and flexibility and, as technology has advanced, I’ve picked up new skills, adapted the way I work and gained confidence and knowledge with each new role.
The nature of marketing is that it lends itself to flexible working methods and as such, I’ve been able to combine my career with bringing up my family. I chose to work on a self-employed basis when my first child was born so that I had the opportunity to work from home and be there for my children whilst keeping my hand in with work. As my children have grown, so has my role, working on a freelance basis for a number of clients and increasing the hours I work.
There have been times when I’ve missed the social aspects of work and being able to ‘bounce ideas’ around an office but I’ve kept in touch with all my colleagues from the past and as they’ve become close friends they’re always there when I need some input.
So if I envisage now how I will feel in 20 years’ time and looking back on my 50 year career what will be the stand-out moments?
Certainly I will be grateful that I had the chance to work with some amazing people, travelled the world and challenged myself in many different roles. But probably the most important aspect will be the fact that I was able to do it and still be a full-time mum too. It’s not always been easy but I feel it’s not just benefited me personally and financially but it’s been a good life lesson for my children to understand the importance of work and will hopefully set them in good stead for the future too.
The 50 Year Career is now a reality. What do you think your experiences and stand-out moments will be?