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A job for life or a life of jobs?

How people move around in their careers

A person working

I spoke to two pre-reg optometrists this week who have just sat their OCSEs and are now sitting tight, with everything crossed, hoping that newly-qualified status arrives come results day on August 10.

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How many different companies have you worked for during your time in the profession? Is it a job for life or a life of jobs for you?

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They shared the highs and lows of their pre-reg year and how they prepared for the 'daunting' and 'highly pressurised’ OSCE. Then, future gazing, they told me their career aspirations – “the world of optometry will be my oyster” said one, while the other said, “I want to continue to learn, hone my skills in practice and one day use them for something bigger.”

While they both work in different settings – one at an independent and one in a multiple – one thing they have in common is their commitment to the sector and the companies that they have chosen to work for.

As I read articles about the work ethic of the so-called ‘millennials,’ paired with research that the “younger” generation of workers are geared towards a life of jobs, as opposed to a job for life, I wonder if optics is bucking this trend in some areas? 

These generalisations are certainly not what I took from this duo. While one has had a presence at the practice where he has worked since the age of 16, the other has been a familiar weekend face since the summer of his second year at university. And, rather than making their next move come results day, they will be embracing up-skilling and seeking opportunities within their current workplace to help them progress in their chosen careers – for the foreseeable future, at least.

This view was also reinforced when I read a (soon to be published) article by our clinical editor who has worked as an optometrist in the same practice for two decades – and even longer when you count his time as an optical technician, DO and pre-reg. Then came the story of DO Philip Quinby, who has been inducted into the Boots 50 Year Club having spent the last five decades with the opticians. 

While I accept that these examples may not be ‘millennials,’ a prolonged length of service is normally mirrored when I speak to interviewees from across the profession for OT’s monthly How I got here feature. Practitioners may take their time to find their area of choice, but once there, they commit. 

I'd be interested in hearing your views. How long have you been in the profession and how many jobs have you had during that time? Can you stay with a company too long/too little? What makes you consider a job move?

Share your views on the AOP's community forums.

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