Metaphors have become a way of life and expression. They help us bring some pictures together so that the explanation becomes more meaningful. We are therefore able to understand the meaning of something in a different perspective. Metaphors have found their use in describing the current forms of careers (Inkson, 2007). Traditional career forms are fast fading due to factors like outsourcing, automation, and changing economic landscapes. This paper will look at four metaphors that have been associated with careers. The four metaphors that are discussed in this paper include a career as relationships, career as a resource, career as actions, and career as a role. The author will also highlight the reason why a career as actions is the most significant of all the other metaphors that are associated with careers. The reasons given in the paper is that it is an individual’s actions that will shape the destination and the path that a career will take. The actions that one undertakes and the decisions they decide to make determine where their careers will head. This metaphor therefore is significant and logical compared to all other career metaphors.
Compare and contrast career as a journey and career as an inheritance
Aston’s career as a journey is a common metaphor in which careers have been compared. In this metaphor, journey shows mobility, that there is mobility is the key issue and that careers are mobile. When working on a career, it is clear that someone is mobile in that career. In this metaphor, Aston travelled from Britain to Australia. These two places are different in terms of culture and geography. Aston moved from one place to another and from one organization to another in career development. Sometimes he remained in one city and country and other times he had to move even internationally. This is the journey that his career took him and he followed it for the sake of his career. This is the metaphor of a career as a journey. There is also the metaphor of a career as an inheritance. This metaphor emphasizes the fact that there are forces that are beyond our control that affect the path and the choice that we make regarding our careers. These include forces from the family and the environment in which they are living. Most of the times, one’s career is shaped and influenced by the past, either by the family or the environment in which they are coming from. These are the forces in which one cannot eradicate so easily because it is beyond their control. The social class that we are and the gender that we are, shape the way we will choose our careers. Children are also influenced in the education they receive and the opportunities they get while they are developing their careers. Career inheritance is in many forms. It can either be genetic (inherited IQ), psychological (the attitude of parents towards work) and sociological (the social structure that the person is located.
The two metaphors compare with that there is a destination for one’s career. In the career as a journey, there is a destination to the person undertaking the career. In the case, Aston’s destination is Australia. Initially, Aston is based in the United Kingdom and then was headed to Australia because of career development. The changes are due to a passion for the development of the career. The moves could also be just internal and within a given industry. In our case, Aston sometimes moves within a given organization on the path to any given destination, maybe a better position. Even in such a case, there is a destination.
Both metaphors make has time as an important factor. Time is an important factor there is in career journey. Different times will find people in different places and different phases of their careers. Likewise in a career as an inheritance, the career that the child will inherit will be after some time has elapsed. With time, the career that is inherited might have changed due to the dynamism and economic changes that might have taken place (Gallos, 1989).
The difference between the two metaphors is that while of the metaphor of a career as a journey the traveler has some power to affect the destination they are travelling, in the career as an inheritance, they have little or no power at all to affect the destination and the paths they take on the career. In the career as an inheritance, the person takes everything as they get in the environment. They have little power to change the way they would have liked it (Inkson, 2007). If the inheritance of the genes, they are things that are controlled by nature. Someone would have liked to do medicine but their genes might not allow. This could be as a result of their weak grasping of facts and therefore cannot attain the mark that is required for an individual to be enrolled in this course. In the career as a journey, someone can choose whether to take a new position or to move to a given destination. They have the choice to make (Dawis, 2002).
Another difference between the two is that time that is taken in career development in the career as an inheritance will depend largely on the external factors that one is faced with. On the other hand, career as a journey will depend on the behavior of an individual. If an individual is aggressive, then the time that they will take to reach a given destination is short and vice versa (Dawis, & Loftquist, 1984).
Another difference is that resources may be different in both. In the career as an inheritance, the inheritor could get resources that had been used by their parents and other family members. They could inherit resources that have been used by members of the family to undertake the career. On the other hand, career as a journey does not guarantee that the people who have traveled that path could have had the same resources that they used in that same journey. The resources will therefore be different in most circumstances (Fletcher, & Bailyn, 1996).
The use of these metaphors helps me understand careers further. I now understand that careers are shaped by things that are beyond my control in that metaphor of a career as and inheritance. I now understand that there is a role that my family plays in career development. I have all along thought that I make my decisions according to my capability alone. I also understand, through the metaphor of a career as a journey that before one retires, the career path is long and there are a lot of decisions that one has to make. These things are not clearer to me than before (Goodale, & Hall, 1976).
Critically assess this reliance in relation to the use of four (4) metaphors of careers provided by Inkson
Career as action is based on the fact that most of what happens in someone’s career is from the actions and the decisions they make. If one decides to do something, then they will achieve that goal that they so wish. This is a valid metaphor in relation to careers and career development. If Aston could have stayed in Britain, he could not have seized the opportunity in Australia and could still have been in the same position. If one stays in one position for a long time without any improvements and actions regarding the development of their careers, then they will reap nothing in the long run. If one develops his skills and strives to be relevant in the field in which they are working, then the career will be enhanced and will go to places (Driver, 1984). These are the actions that shape the way one will come out in the future. This metaphor is by far the most relevant and logical because it is clear that most careers are out of actions that we choose to undertake. We are shaped by our own actions. This is in tandem with life as we are what we are because of our actions and thoughts (Gottfreidson, 2002).
Career as a role is defined by what we do at different times. Aston was acting in different capacities at different times in career development. He was an engineer, manager, financial advisor, and a consultant at different times. These are defined by organizations and his employment agents that we work for at different times. These roles change with time and in different circumstances. It is required that someone works on these roles according to the various definitions that are required of them. At one time, one is a son, brother, sister and student. After some time, one becomes a young man/woman, wife, husband or a divorcee. An individual becomes what they are because of the expectations of the people that want them that way. Compared to the other metaphors, this metaphor is logical in that we are who we are because we are relevant and because we are expected to be that way. We work for others and therefore we should act in the roles that they expect us to do (Csikszentmihalyi, 1991).
Career as a relationship is a metaphor that relates to the social contacts that we get with those we work together. Networks and social contacts start with family first. It then grows slowly as we meet many people and thus we make our careers stronger. There was a time when Aston was laid off in Australia and someone he did not know offered him a job. The stranger knew Aston through his work and reputation. These are the networks that are found to be important and valuable while we are developing our careers. Compared to other metaphors, it is important to know that we should work in relation to others as they will help shape our careers (Gioia, & Poole, 1984).
Career as a resource is from the fact that as an individual grows in their expertise and knowledge, their experience becomes a resource to many and they use these resources to develop and build others. As one advances in their knowledge, they become a resource to the organization where they are depended upon in their work. This metaphor is very important as it helps to understand that whatever we put into the organization, we keep on becoming valuable to them as our experience becomes valuable to them. Compared to the other metaphors, this metaphor brings out an important aspect of experience and knowledge as important aspects and resources that are valued by companies.
It is clear from the paper that the use of metaphors helps people in making decisions and Career as action is the most appropriate metaphor to be associated with careers and brings out a clear picture of an individual’s career. From the paper, it is clear that the decisions that one makes and the actions they decide to do and not to do are the determinants of the path their career life will undertake. Compared to the other careers, it shows that an individual’s effort are the main determinants of the path of a career. In conclusion, it is up to an individual to decide where their careers will lead them, thus, career depends on an individual’s actions.
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