The Middle Class Career At Mid Life

Part 1 – Our Work Defines Us

“Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness”. This quote from Thomas Carlyle exemplifies middle-class Americans because we define ourselves first and foremost by our work. And though many of us say we would like to spend fewer hours pushing a pencil, attending meetings, pounding away on a computer and more hours with our families or playing with our boats and cars, it would be cruel punishment to take work away from us. For most of us in the middle-class, work is the single most important thing in their lives. Yet, one of the great paradoxes of human development is that we are required to make the most important decision of our life as a pimple faced adolescent or very young adult, before we have the knowledge, judgment and self understanding to choose wisely. Yet, if we put off the choice until we feel truly ready, that delay could produce even greater cost.

Choosing; a Career

Many working class men and women stumble into the job market, unconcerned about preparation because they may consider it irrelevant to success in life. On the other hand, middle-class men and women are likely to plan their careers very carefully and persist in acquiring the necessary education and preparation, even in the face of economic hardship. In general, the higher the social and economic status of the family the more an individual is likely to plan a career, or at least the general outlines of one.

Middle-class adolescent men and women are under a lot of pressure when choosing a career, because entry into the work world is becoming increasingly difficult. This is partly because there has been an overwhelming increase in the number of occupations from which to choose, and because the increasingly complex nature of many jobs has made training longer and more expensive.

Motivations for choosing a given career can vary a great deal. Individuals who chose business as a career usually make a rational appraisal of what was most important to them, which may be business’s perceived power and income potential. On the other hand, men and women who chose an academic profession appear to be more motivated by autonomy, the desire to do scholarly work, and intellectual status.

Once the career path has been chosen young middle-class individuals spend years as students, having to confine and discipline themselves to succeed in the educational process. Then after graduation from college they may spend two to four years in graduate school. After college they may spend years in entry level work in engineering, sales, or management. Even hourly workers need years to explore, train and move beyond apprentice, working their way into a union. All of this means that by the time individuals are really into their careers, beginning to advance and develop, they are in their late twenties and a few into their early thirties.

Next Week Part 2 – The Middle Class Career: Structure and Stages




Published in: on September 23, 2013 at 6:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

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