A few months ago, a man I respect told me that no one has meaningful careers anymore, everyone just has jobs. I disagreed. But it raised the question: What exactly is a meaningful career?
I am a manager of I.T. working for an insurance company. My undergraduate degree is in Psychology, which would hardly seem fitting for an I.T. manager. I also have an MBA, but no education in I.T. beyond lots of on-the-job training, and seminars or conferences. As I don’t have a Computer Science degree, would my career be in management, or in I.T.? Since I work at an insurance company, does that say anything about my career, or is the place of employment incidental?
I like to believe I have a meaningful career as a manager of I.T. I haven’t always been an I.T. manager. I started out doing clerical work in I.T., became a technician, then a network administrator before I became a manager. Once I became a manager, I learned much more about technology through the many activities of my team of technicians, systems admins and engineers.
Also I learned about people, how they think and work, and how to encourage them to work together; the importance of respecting others and earning others’ respect. And I manage not only people but projects, contracts, time, budgets.
All of these add up to a career built over time, a melding of experience in both technology and management. Satisfaction comes from working with a team who understands a job well done. But what makes it meaningful to me, are the rich human relationships I enjoy every day I walk onto my job. The greatest rewards are in helping and watching people learn, grow and prosper. That is what a meaningful career is to me.
Can you have a career without it being meaningful?