February 21, 2024

What is a Career? | Eric Horwitz '90CC

Hello Columbia Alumni,

I am Eric Horwitz, graduate of Columbia College Class of 1990.  I am the head of the Columbia Career Coaches Network (CCCN), comprised of professional career coaches who are also Columbia alumni. We offer our skills expertise and insights to all alumni, wherever they are in their career journey.

Each of us approaches this work with a deep passion and commitment to assist individuals in navigating change and transformation to find fulfillment in their professional lives, while also being sensitive to each individual’s unique life and career experiences. 


Today, I wanted to talk to you about something that you might take for granted, or not think deeply about. What is a “career" in the Oxford dictionary?

"An occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress".

Whoa. That is a mouthful of amazing words to digest.

1. It is “an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life”.  So let’s define a significant period of a person’s life.  Assuming life expectancy is 78 years old, and you can’t really start a career until you graduate college, you’re left with 57 years of available work time that can be attached to an occupation. 57 years? Wow. At least 30 to 40 years can be considered significant. In my experience, we can master a profession in about 10 to 12 years, so if you are looking to make a career a significant part of your life, I would say that you probably will have 3 careers in your working years.

So to take stock of that, when thinking about your career, perhaps you can consider that there will be three significant career choices in your lifetime.  That sounds daunting, but it’s also manageable. Each one of these career shifts will allow you to reassess what you are good at, what you can be paid for, what the world needs, and what you love to do (Ikigai - look it up).

2. “Opportunities for Progress”. - Human beings are evolutionary entities.  We didn’t always have opposable thumbs. now we do, and we can text people and play Candy Crush.  When assessing a career (with the help of an experienced coach), you should be thinking deeply about whether there is an opportunity for progress.  

Progress?  What kind of progress?  This might include, financial, role and responsibility, visibility, mental, emotional, or spiritual growth. Any and all of these things can exist as an opportunity for growth. If none are available to you or have been used to their fullest, perhaps it is time for a shift in careers or to change what you are doing.


The Career Coaches Network is here to help! Join us monthly on the second Wednesday of the month for expert guidance on your career journey. Register here

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  • Marui Lavinder
    published this page in Articles 2024-02-21 11:43:50 -0500