I always thought of a career path as a linear format in which one makes their career growth according to a set path taking guidance from a book, mentor or a class.
In reality very few of us strive to follow this path. It may be a good guideline to follow but typically there is an abstract line that runs in other directions that doesn’t necessarily have to be vertical, but usually runs multidimensionally to shape one’s career.
Climbing the corporate or business ladders aren’t the only ways to think about career growth, even though it does involve most of the career path decisions.
For some, a professional career is a destination. From the very start, the goal is to achieve some level of proficiency or stature in our chosen field of work. The destination can be a role, a company, a level of achievement, or other specific and measurable goal.
For others, a professional career is a journey. From the very start, the goal is to experience work from a variety of perspectives in your field and adjacent fields. The journey can be different companies or organizations within a big company, job types, geographies, or other varied aspects of your profession. Destination and journey are different ways to look at career progression.
As I mentioned earlier, we can start to map our path in horizontals and verticals. What is your next step toward that position? What category does that new step fall into? An educational achievement, experiential skill/knowledge, new visibility/recognition, new position or new path? When you're moving up to the next level in your career – for example moving from a manager to a director – that is a vertical move. When you're moving from one company to another or making a lateral move within your company, that is a horizontal path.
Work your way, both horizontally and vertically.
Your thoughts on this topic would be appreciated.