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Where is the Career Going? Essay

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Samuel Johnson’s eighteenth century Dictionary of the English Language defined the word career as “1. The ground on which a race is run; the length of a course. 2. A course, a race. 3. Height of speed; swift motion. 4. Course of action; uninterrupted procedure” (Johnson, 1819). None of these things directly reference the traditional idea of work, but this early definition hints at the ideas behind the modern idea. When people think of a career, they think of doing something for life. A person does a job at one company and stays there, slowly working his or her way up the ranks until they finally retire. A career is uninterrupted work in one place. Once started on a track, the worker stays there. He or she can define themselves by what they do day in and day out. They have an uninterrupted routine, they go through a process, day by day working towards an end goal, payment, and then eventually retirement. By doing just one thing they can compare how they did on one day to how they did on previous days, or to how other people did.
By 1893 the Funk and Wagnalls dictionary in America added the more contemporary notion of a career. “1. A complete course or progress extending through the life or a portion of it, especially when abounding in remarkable actions or incidents, or when publicly conspicuous: said of persons, political parties, nations, etc. 2. A course of business activity, or enterprise; especially, a course of professional life or employment, that offers advancement or honor.” (Funk and Wagnall, 1893) The image of a single track with an end goal that the employee runs day after day still exists, but now more emphasis is placed on the public aspect of a career. People use their career to define themselves, and others. In...


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...t it is much more fluid now. Workers have to be able to adapt. They are no longer stuck in one job for life. Workers will find themselves in multiple jobs and working with many people they would never have come across before. The career isn’t going anywhere it’s just changed, and there is nothing to worry about.


Works Cited

“Definitions: Work, Career, Profession, Vocation.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Ed. by Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. 11th ed. Boston: Longman, 2011. 207-13

The Economist. “Into the Unknown.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Ed. by Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. 11th ed. Boston: Longman, 2011, 244-47.

Sennett, Richard. “No Long Term: New Work and the Corrosion of Character.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Ed. by Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. 11th ed. Boston: Longman, 2011. 207-13


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