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Succeed in the workplace
Succeed in the workplace

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1 What is a career?

Before looking at the career planning process, it is good to stop and think about what is meant by a career. This can mean different things to different people and a good place to start is to ask yourself: what do I think a career is? Have a go at this quick introductory activity.

Activity 1 What does having a career mean?

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes

Spend a few minutes jotting down in your notebook what you think having a career means. There are no right or wrong answers to this, so write down whatever comes to mind.

Top tip: always write down your answers to activities, so that you have a personal record which you can refer to as the course progresses.

Now click on reveal comment to see some ideas.


This list is not comprehensive and you may have come up with different ideas but it should give you a flavour of what having a career means for different people:

  • Paid work
  • Unpaid voluntary work
  • Working in an office
  • Being self employed
  • Running a small business from home
  • Having caring responsibilities
  • Working at the same kind of job throughout life
  • Needs specific training and qualifications
  • Always working in the same industry or sector.

You may have been surprised by some of the ideas that having a career can mean to different people.

To many, a career meant and still means, working in the same industry or sector in a similar capacity throughout their working life. It was also associated with needing specialist training and was something only a highly qualified person could have. It has always meant being paid and having to leave the house every day to go somewhere to carry out the job. However, this restricts the idea of a career to a relatively small section of society in the present day and does not reflect the different experiences that people have and their value.

So, when this course talks about a career, it has a much broader meaning. It encompasses anything you do that involves some kind of work, be that outside the home or in the home, paid or unpaid.

The next section will introduce the idea of a career planning process.