How would you define career success?Featured
Q: What's your personal definition of career success?I think the question of ‘career success’ is an interesting one, in that it gives me the opportunity to reflect on much more than just the phrase itself. If I were to think of my career as my job, then my definition of career success when I left university was pretty straightforward. I graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering, so I very quickly got a job in the field, and started working my way up the ranks. One of the benefits of engineering is that the career path, like the discipline itself, is fairly structured. You work on basic, simple roles to begin with, and as you gain experience in your chosen field (mine was oil and gas), you slowly take on more responsibility, you increase the skillset you have and you move onwards and upwards in a fairly linear fashion. Makes sense, right?That was the plan, anyway. I did what was expected of me, and what I expected of myself, for four years. I gained the adequate experience and more, pushed myself to get accredited faster than my colleagues and worked with mentors to set out my three, five, ten, 20 year plan. It all seemed pretty in hand. ‘Career’ or ‘job’ success at the time was easy: you follow the steps to achieving the highest your potential will take you in the company or industry.But along the way, I got… let’s say, waylaid. I’d always been involved in social justice work, having started the non-for-profit Youth Without Borders when I was 16 and serving on numerous board all through university and beyond. I’d also begun writing - casually, of course - never taking it quite as seriously as engineering. Four years into my engineering career however, I published my first book and ended up taking a year off to tour, nationally and internationally, then taking on some broadcasting work, then writing another book, then moving countries… So here I now find myself, three years later, working on my third book, two TV series and a documentary under my belt, bylines including the Guardian, BBC, Teen Vogue and more… but no real idea of what my ‘career’ is, or what success in said career would look like. I find myself in the privileged position of doing work that I am interested in, I suppose, so that’s success. I can pay the rent, and have enough to eat out (Alhamdulilah) so that’s success too. I am also constantly learning, and that is something I am deeply grateful for. So, is that success? Perhaps what you’re asking is, ‘how do I know I’ve made it?’ To that, I would cheekily reply: when I’m on my deathbed and thinking, oh yeh, it’s time. I hope I’ve done enough. Until then, I guess success for me - not only just in my career, but overall - a life where I had a net positive impact on the people and community around me, where I acted with integrity and chose to live in joy and gratitude. Hey, I’m a religious gal - really, success is getting into heaven! ;)My name is Yassmin Abdel-Magied and I have the blessing of associating with multiple identities. First and foremost, I am a Muslim, Alhamdulillah. I was born in Sudan and raised in Australia. I am the Founder and Chair of Youth Without Borders, and Mumtaza. I am also a mechanical engineer, with a passion for adventures, football, boxing, and motorsport. Working with community, hours spent in endless philosophy discussions (sprinkled with terrible puns) and debates on international relations are also pastimes that keep me happily occupied.You can learn more about me on my website.