14 Oct 2022

Corporate Ladder or Squiggly Career?


Climbing the traditional corporate ladder, rung by rung, works for many people. They join an organisation and advance their career by shifting from role to role. They change their salary authority and responsibility as they climb the ranks.

Still, this process isn’t for everyone. Take me, for example. I’m now a technologist, passionate about diverse talent in our industry, but I studied Environmental Science. Even though it’s a STEM subject, it had way too many lab coats and wellies for my liking! On top of that, I didn’t enter the workforce through a graduate scheme, I followed my childhood hobby of playing around with technology. So I started at EY as an IT Trainer.

This sort of career is what Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis call a “squiggly career”. In their best-selling 2020 book, The Squiggly Career, they explain that frequent and fluid movement between roles, industries, locations, and even careers is becoming the new normal.

A squiggly career might be the best choice for an individual, but it won’t always be the easiest. Tupper and Ellis warn their readers that while the squiggly career can be stressful and overwhelming, knowing how to make the most of one can lead to a world of opportunity,
freedom and purpose. As a ‘mini’ squiggler myself, who moved around roles, career direction and locations, if not employer, I can confirm that they’re spot on.

Tupper and Ellis’ fantastic book is packed with thought-provoking exercises, as well as insights and inspiration from successful people who shunned the predictable, staircase-like corporate ladder for a more contemporary approach to work. Check it out – it’s a great resource for anyone who wants to learn how to do the same, and do it well, as is their Squiggly Careers Podcast.

Happy squiggling, Stemettes!


This article was written by Tori Roberts

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