In an age where the meaning of the word “work” is being redefined, where the private sphere takes precedence over the professional sphere, what does “making a career” mean today?
Jeremiah Peltier The idea of ”making a career” is undoubtedly one of the elements that has changed a lot in the past 10 years. This concerns the younger generation, of course, but not only. This shift affects the entire population. We used to say “make a career ahead”, because we are often associated with our work. Our social status depends on it. It suffices to observe a group of people meeting for the first time and the question classically posed is: “And you, what do you do for a living? By this we mean: “What do you do as a job?” But now, I think the external working structures are working. This means that free time has become a social sign. This is a trend that was already in place before the crisis and has accelerated since then. Today, we are much more attached to our hobbies and our place of residence than our work. Indeed, the concept of “making a profession” no longer had the strong meaning that it had been given. Another element that comes into play as well, is the mistrust of the younger generation towards large groups. This is the trend that we have already seen emerging before the crisis: young people of the last generation are multiplying professional experiences, they no longer have that loyalty that one could have to the company, a kind of cohesion in the cycle. In fact, “making a career” does not have the same connotation at a time when the desire for loyalty to one’s job and one’s company is generally lower. Even about 30 and 40 years old have left everything overnight to find meaning in their work; We have seen engineers and entrepreneurs leave to open a bakery, a small brewery … So, it is true, we can consider that these are fleeting phenomena, but all this changes the concept of “working in a profession”. It is no longer a linear profession but a more flexible one.
Did the health crisis weaken this speed?
JP The final element that could challenge this concept of a flexible profession is one we noted in our surveys in December 2021. Covid-19 has had a very sad impact on young people. So much so, that a third of 18-24 year olds saw themselves staying at the same company several years into the future. Which is quite logical because it is a generation that has suffered from the effects of the health crisis, the expiration of a certain number of fixed-term contracts, the non-renewal of work and study contracts, and the end of small jobs that allowed them to do so. Support themselves while continuing their studies. From this point of view, there is something more realistic and classic in the way they approach their careers. This would almost modernize the very idea of ”making a career” in terms of loyalty to a company because it is a guarantee of security and serenity. What they missed during the crisis.
However, does the phrase “career” still make sense? Because even if the anxiety of not getting a job exists, it seems that work no longer defines the core of the individual. Faced with this shift in value, is “making a career” an expression that will persist in everyday language? Don’t we prefer “success in life” to him?
JP We have gone from “making a career” to “success in life” and from “success in life” to “taking care of yourself, your body and your mind.” It is a very individualistic attitude that breaks away from the criteria of success, such as having a satisfying family life, a home, or an area we like to live in… Our era is the era of the luxury society, the culture of well-being. Today, having a fulfilling life means having a healthy life in which we pay attention to the rhythm of our lives. In fact, this tends to make the workplace relative to our daily lives. Not so long ago, our days were organized according to work: when to wake up, when to sleep, when to leave … Now it is work that must adapt to our chosen rhythm of life.
We’ve gone from “work more to earn more” to “work less to live better”. Has Covid-19 accelerate this trend? Finally, did we live so poorly?
JP It is true that this trend already exists and has been accelerating, in particular for two reasons. The first concerns all those for whom remote work was possible, they realized that they could largely manage their day with activity starting at 9am or 9:30am, lunch break of an hour and an hour and a half and the end of the day at 6pm because they are between Overnight they stop wasting time on transportation, in endless, useless meetings that make you waste time on your activity in general. And in fact, at 6 pm there is a set of activities that ends and free time follows. This has accelerated the relativity of the workplace in the daily lives of individuals.
The second reason relates to people who have manual activities and who, due to partial unemployment, have realized that they are likely to have an unsatisfactory life. These people understood that they had jobs that simply prevented them from enjoying their lives. There was a very violent awakening on the part of the cafeteria owners, waiters, and other service workers: not only did they have jobs that paid poorly most of the time, but they had absolutely ridiculous hours that prevented them from enjoying their family life and the love of life. So, yes, I precipitated the question of where work is in quality of life.
The quality of life that the younger generation puts above all else…
JP Part of the younger generation has a very practical goal, which is to put enough money aside until they reach the age of 40/50 to then enjoy life and spend time other than work. In fact, the idea of ”making a career” is completely outdated because in the end it would be a career that ends quickly, like the one that a soccer player would end up with. This desire to enjoy life goes hand in hand with the fact that the younger generation does not plan to work until the age of 70/80. This is a generation that does not care about the pension reform debate, has not integrated it and has never expected it. On the contrary, the fact that it is possible to work until the age of 60/70 is not a project of life. Young people don’t see themselves working for long, at least not as long as their parents.
Is the concept of the profession obsolete for young people only?
JP not exactly. Many so-called traditional patterns are disappearing. There are fewer and fewer big bosses, senior industry leaders who are running to the story of what they did, and who are talking about their careers with precision. Today, the big bosses, in the economic and financial sphere, are people who buy companies, resell them, and then buy them back, they are businessmen, not the big leaders of industry because their era has changed, and the retreat from industrialization means that large industries have been forced to disappear in favor of a service society. It’s very hard to talk about a job with someone who’s been buying and selling companies only every two years. We return to the comparison of a football player who changes clubs every two years while before that he could run his career at the same club. Today, it is much more complicated to say “What a wonderful profession I had!”, because this profession is very difficult to put into practice, and it is very difficult to decipher it. This obsolescence of the concept of profession is interesting, it is an indication of profound societal changes.
that by saying?
JP Today, work is no longer seen in the same way, of course, but this reveals a fundamental problem: the problem of motivation. When we talk about the relativization of the workplace, the obsolescence of the idea of ’career making’, and the non-working structures that work, in my opinion, this raises questions about the effort we are still able to put in to work. It’s a concept we don’t really talk about and it’s fundamental: what is the motivation we still have to do for activities other than fun and playful activities in a society that finds it hard to bear not being fulfilled, not enjoying free time. By the pursuit of luxury at all costs, frustration tends to take hold as we head toward that society.
Article from T La Revue No. 9 “Labour, Is It Really Reasonable?” – Currently on newsstands and available at kiosque.latribune.fr/t-la-revue