Chicago — Recently, a 99-year-old trucking company shut down, leaving thousands of people out of work, including one of my loved ones who worked there for over two decades. When I heard the news, it confirmed a certain reality about the business world, that no one in the workforce is spared from change.
For years, your company might’ve been thriving, racking up sales, forging new partnerships, or driving new strategies. As an early career professional, you might not even imagine that your company could be handling its challenges today in ways that won’t work tomorrow, five years from now or fifty years from now. But the truth is, unless companies adapt in meaningful ways, they might not make it. If they don’t, that means the people working there need to adjust their career plans as well. It’s not fair but it’s a reality.
This makes me think of the 30,000 who left the trucking company. When a company has been around for so long, it might be easy for employees to think that will continue to be the case. How many made that assumption before they were surprisingly sent home with severance pay? How many saw the writing on the wall and prepared for their next steps? How many are still scrambling to find their next role right now? How many are too anxious and dumbfounded by their new challenging situation to start?
At the least, these considerations reminded me that I need to stay on top of a few things at my job. For one, I need a deep understanding of how well my company is doing and why. To the best of my ability, I need to know how confident I can be that I’ll still have a job next week or next year. Then, even when I have such confidence, I need to proactively look for ways my career can grow just in case things change. That might mean randomly scrolling through LinkedIn to see what roles are out there or developing certain skills in my free time that could make me a more attractive candidate to other companies. It might mean developing relationships with people in companies or industries I want to be in. It might just mean learning to be okay with change even when it brings challenges. One thing for sure: change brings both new challenges and opportunities.
Noah Johnson (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based journalist. Follow him on Twitter: @noahwritestoo.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett