A different dialogue about work

  • by

“Students, rebel against these soul-suckers! Follow your dreams, however hard it may be, however uncertain success might seem.”

As you would expect, an article with a quote like that captured my attention as I read it early yesterday morning. And I’ve been mulling it over ever since (including engaging in a lively discussion about it on my personal Facebook page).

I’m not on the “all corporations are bad” bandwagon and believe the argument George Monbiot puts across is too much of a black/white, good/bad dichotomy that just isn’t true. But I do believe in the UK a huge amount of money is spent by large corporates trying to woo top graduates, which in itself is absolutely fine, except it has lead to the misconception that consultancy and city jobs = success and if you can’t get in you have “failed”.

George Monbiot calls it brainwashing but I see it as holding up a concept that people are taking as gospel and swallowing hook, line and sinker.


The graduate programmes of corporates are seen as the holy grail and if graduates don’t want this then many are left wondering why they aren’t “normal”,  questioning what else is out there for them. However, in challenging this notion we need to make sure we aren’t declaring that working in corporates is inherently wrong:

Other / City
Worthy / Useless
Success  / Failure
Good / Evil
Right / Wrong

We are not all bankers. Or analysts. Or consultants. Or musicians. Or journalists. Or bloggers. Or outdoor adventurers.
One is not better than the other.
It’s important to acknowledge our diversity and help people identify their unique definition of career success.

It’s about finding the fit for you. It’s about defining success for yourself.


All of this brings to mind a fabulous article by Marina Keegan that discusses her amazement that 25% of students at Yale go onto work in consultancy or finance (although many don’t state this as a vision, want or desire).

“What bothers me is this idea of validation, of rationalization. The notion that some of us (regardless of what we tell ourselves) are doing this because we’re not sure what else to do and it’s easy to apply to and it will pay us decently and it will make us feel like we’re still successful.”


If we want to get more university graduates doing what they want rather than what they think they should we need to talk about this. And not in a black / white, right / wrong debate kind of way. In a dialogue, reflection, introspection kind of way.

I want to be part of the dialogue about a new way to look at work and success.

To make sure graduates don’t rationalise the idea of the job they want. To help people realise corporate life is ONE life not THE life. That the 9am-5pm 20-year career ladder is great for some. Others may want 10 years corporate work then a 1 year sabbatical and rinse and repeat. Or maybe part-time throughout your career. Social enterprise. Freelance. Charity. Travel. Working at home. Location independent.

You name it – you can have it. But first – know who you are and why you want this.
Soul-suckers exist in all guises and the most important thing is to see what you want, why you want it, and then be supported to go after and make it happen.

Eventbrite - Redefining Career Success - June 2015

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *