Super-successful fears for future
August 2, 2011 1:18 PM   Subscribe

Where should/is my career-life headed next?

I work in the journalism industry in Canada, in my late 20s.

I've been uber-successful very early in my career, multiple national and international awards, a promotion, a raise, respect from peers and colleagues, speaking engagements at conferences, leeway with vacation time from my manager and a lot of one on one time with the senior management. In many cases when meetings occur I'm the lowest one on the totem pole, but essentially the one trusted to make the decision of the meeting happen. I'm the Golden Boy.

What happens to these very early successful and ambitious workers? burnout? move to a different company? management? etc? What are some of the examples of what this means for the next 5-10 years of my career? Do they actually expect to maintain this pace the entire time? Do you see a lot of early success-ites buckle down just ride it out as long as possible?

Where should/is my career headed next?
posted by mistertoronto to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The future is unwritten. What would you like to have happen next?
posted by hungrytiger at 1:32 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can't speak to the journalism industry in particular, but generally this sort of wunderkind behaviour is seen as a positive and management (if they're smart) will try to mentor you and help you quickly move up through the ranks.

If they're not helping you to progress in your career, and are instead content to see you excel without letting you move beyond what you're already doing, you may want to seek out another company to see if they'll allow you to grow.

Your central question of "where is my career headed next," though, is largely up to you. It sounds like you've got a promising career ahead of you if you can keep going at the pace you've been going at.
posted by asnider at 1:42 PM on August 2, 2011

It seems that you've made all the right moves, and possess all the right tools along with high levels of natural talent. Being in your late 20's and in your position is exactly where you wanna be. In terms of where things will go? I agree with the other comments on here that a lot of it is up to you. You have the power and the credentials to choose your direction at this point. Being young but experienced and recognized puts the ball in your court. If I was you I would take some time to simply write down what YOUR long term goals and dreams are. Are you doing what you wanna do? Are you living the way you wanna live? Does your current job seem like a place that will help fulfill your goals and dreams? If so what are the necessary steps to make sure all that you want is accomplished there? If not, then it's time to start looking for a company that can utilize a rising star such as yourself. Congrats on success and may you continue on same path.
posted by ljs30 at 2:06 PM on August 2, 2011

The important thing is that you do what you want to do. It's easy to take promotions and move into "management" - especially when you are progressing at such a great rate. But that may not be right for you. Sounds like you've got the luxury of choice - so do the real hard work and figure out what will make you happy. It's different for each of us.
posted by helmutdog at 3:35 PM on August 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

It really depends on where you are working. If you're with Thomson, I would suggest that you try to move into specialist editorial management, such as WestLaw, because the law field is has a now-functionally low cost of production and has the potential for developing areas of experiential expertise in niche market areas WestLaw does not yet cover well. If you work for TorStar, you should consider getting into television news and documentary production, although as a journalist you are at a loss for having a specialist subject. In both of the cases I describe you will have to find your own wunderkinds to develop into talented interviewers and writers.

I know the future can seem very shaky for journalists. At 28, I finished my second senior executive role in journalism when I was let go from producing a commercial radio show in San Francisco. I actually had friends who said I had peaked and I took it quite hard, gaining a lot of weight and getting quite depressed. While searching for a career I wanted I actually abandoned writing altogether for two years to work and train in major gift fundraising. I finally got back into writing and found my soul by studying for a master's degree in creative policy and industrial research that renewed my sense of social justice and inclusive media. The very challenge that we face as journalists is to go beyond the style of writing we are taught and attempt to make something ourselves or of ourselves. I consistently find the work I do on my own volition has more social worth attached than what I volunteer to do.

I came to the realization at 28 that most older journalists and managers, the people who populate your meetings and applaud your alacrity will not retire soon. I do not want you to become cynical and reject your possibilities by doing something rash. I do suggest that you seek the opportunity of an attachment in another office for several weeks to see if you like it and see if the people you left behind care enough notice you are gone. In the meantime, really think about what you might study if you went back to university. Education is a very fearful/fearsome subject for journalists. We school ourselves with memory! I bet you have a pile of notebooks and you can't bear to delete e-mails. However, learning about something other than journalism will at least give you the perspective to see that work and life is about more than pleasing people.
posted by parmanparman at 3:56 PM on August 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

If I were you, I would develop my career in the upcoming future with a goal of eventual self employment. Use this time to build up your network and develop the skills needed to be your own boss someday, and start to think about what your own business would look like.

Sounds like you're sitting on a golden ticket, and that's how I would cash it in if I were you. I hate working for the Man!
posted by imalaowai at 4:55 PM on August 2, 2011

I think you should count your blessings and create your own safety net and then down shift out of the rat race and be able to do what you want without fear.

No wait, that is what I wish I could do. Shoot. How do I do that?
posted by ian1977 at 6:00 PM on August 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

In regards to: "I think you should count your blessings and create your own safety net and then down shift out of the rat race and be able to do what you want without fear. "

Good advice!!!

"No wait, that is what I wish I could do. Shoot. How do I do that?"

without great risk, how can you accomplish great things?

it's just fear.
posted by gypseefire at 8:53 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

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