How To Change Careers? A Review of 'Working Identity' Idea
This indeed means chaos, strain and tension during the period of change, but this should be embraced rather than feared. The point why experimentation nd exploration lead to better career choice is because there is no rulebook, regardless of what various competency theorists would claim, and tacit, rather than explicit, knowledge of various kinds of work and career what the person would need.
In essence, then, Professor Ibarra's suggestion to people like me is to assume an 'Working' (interim) identity - rather than trying to fit everything around us to one true self, it is about declaring to the world that we are searching. Finding careers is indeed like dating, as one of my colleagues say, and not to settle too soon may indeed be the key to success. The three steps that Professor Ibarra suggests - Crafting Experiments (doing various kinds of work and taking training), Shifting Connections (Building new networks) and Making Sense (Reflecting and Learning from experience) - are perhaps common sense, though these are easier to do for Senior Executives of Independent Means (for whom Prof Ibarra is writing) than average people, and particularly students.
My idea is indeed to facilitate just this kind of experimentation, by creating a safe environment where students can do various kinds of work, connect with people of different interests and professions, and make career choices. I have started calling this an Enterprise School, something that sits alongside college and which should facilitate this transition from being a student to a professional. My current work, too closely linked with specific employers and specific jobs, does not allow such experimentation, and yet, this has become a holy grail of the employability conversation - affirming whether there is a job in the end! Professor Ibarra's work allowed me to see the education-to-employment transition problem in a new light, and clarified why finding job mandates is not going to solve the career choice problems (though it may be commercially popular).
As for myself, this gives me a framework which I have done in the past. I have always crafted experiments - right now, I am in the middle of one - and my networks and engagements shifted accordingly. This blog, I shall claim, is my continuous making sense pience, not just I set the agenda for myself here but also take stock. And, these three together helped me through at least one major reinvention of myself.