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Understanding and Applying Adult Development Theory

Understanding and Applying Adult Development Theory 1 Understanding and Applying Adult Development Theory John Smith Nyack College Life is so busy these days that sometimes we don’t stop to think how we got to this point or realize some of those key factors that played a role. I think it is fair to say that most people take a lot of things for granted but when you pause and analyze life’s events it can be an eye opener and really get you thinking about how certain career decisions have created a pathway for your career and at life-space.

Gets a little scary when you think back on how one or two decisions could have really swayed your career.

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I think we can all think back to an event in our adult development that either went our way or one that didn’t that. I think back to my first few years as a working adult and how some of those early influences really set me on a path forward I spent a good amount of time reviewing Donald Super’s theory of career development and the life-span/life-space theory. I am naturally a skeptic, especially when it comes to most of these types of theory’s I read about but I feel that Super was

Understanding and Applying Adult Development Theory 2 right on and it is hard to find areas of disagreement. I especially agree with the point that career decisions are not isolated from other aspects of our lives. When you talk about career development it starts off as a very broad subject and people take all kind of different paths to develop their careers. In my case I started working at UPS right out of high school and it was just a “job” at first and that is all I expected. The word “career” never entered my thinking, alls I knew is that I had graduated high school and my Mother old me that I had to get a job so off to UPS I went. That decision was the first major influence in my adult life, what I didn’t realize back then was that going to UPS instead of, let’s say getting a job at a small business was a huge factor in my career development. UPS is obviously a very big company and they tend to hold onto the one’s they want to develop which was very important to me. If I decided to work for a small family owned business as my first job things could have been very different. I am always very thankful for that decision I made and the people at UPS who took me under their wing and helped develop my career at UPS.

A major factor in one’s career development is to put themselves in a position to grow and or be surrounded by good people or good companies that will help you grow. Easier said then done, when you are young sometimes you don’t realize or are not looking into the future but for me that a critical decision which started my career. My first couple of years with UPS I was still just a kid, but by the time I turned 20 Understanding and Applying Adult Development Theory 3 I was what they called a part-time supervisor which was another critical decision/influences in my career.

I can remember back to that day when I almost turned down the job because I had long hair and didn’t want to cut it off. UPS had a, no hair past you collar rule for men and I really almost turned down the position because of this. Once got past the long hair issue things really started taking off the next few years as I moved around in different management roles to build my skill set. The most influential director I ever worked for was a lady by the name of Mary Finnigan, I still remember her name, she use to hound me all the time about school and when am going to enroll in college.

That is what I mean by good people around you, good companies have good people and they will give you that extra push when you need one. Not sure I ever would have gone to college if she wasn’t all over me about it all the time. Again, she was looking at the big picture regarding developing my career and I was still just looking at it as a job. All of this was happening during Super’s Exploration stage of career development. I was trying to understand what I wanted to do as far as a career.

I was part of the union for year which I did not like very much, I was part of management for about four years during this period and really enjoyed the challenges of the job but still had a hard time with the style of management and people telling me what to do all the time, looking over my shoulder all the time, and just the overall “The beatens will Understanding and Applying Adult Development Theory 4 continue until morale improves” management style. UPS use to have something called MBO’s which was “management by objectives” but the joke was that it was really MBI, “management by intimidation”.

As I moved toward the end of my exploration stage I realized I had to make a career decision/change. Although I very much enjoyed the high pressure atmosphere and the thrill of success I knew that I didn’t respond well to that sort of management style as it was very draining for me and started having a negative effect. As I moved into the establishment phase of Super’s theory I made a bold move and agreed to start college as per Mary’s request. Once I finished my second semester UPS granted my approval to move from the operations to sales which was huge for me and where I excelled.

For the first time I started thinking of UPS Sales as a career and not just a job. I also got married, bought a house, and had a child in the first few years of this stage. As my career in sales got going it create a lot of stability in my live, somehow in operations you never had the feeling of security do to the management style but now I did. Career and personal lives are very much integrated together, the feeling of a career and not just a job somehow settles you down and you start looking at live in a different perspective. Although I owe a lot to UPS and people like Mary I made the decision to leave UPS and to join FedEx.

That was the hardest but most important career decision I have ever made. With UPS I had 10 years in, I was doing well, had security, things were going well. I Understanding and Applying Adult Development Theory 5 I also had a lot of responsibilities including a mortgage and family. Making career changes not only affected me but all affected my family and it was scary leaving something you knew was there for something unknown. But it all worked out very well, FedEx is a much younger company, a sales driven company, which fits my style better.

I have not entered the maintenance stage yet and won’t for another 5 years but if I had to disagree with any of Super’s five stages this would be one that I would disagree with somewhat. If your goal is to just holding onto an achieved job I think you are going to fail in today’s world. The world is very different today and if you are past 45 in corporate America sitting still and just holding onto a job that means you are going backwards. Maybe when you hit 60 I could understand that thinking but not in your mid-40’s or 50’s.

Corporations are very aggressive these days and wouldn’t allow someone to just to hold onto an achieved job. Maybe this is where a smaller company would think or act differently then a large corporation who has to answer to shareholders each quarter. There are many different roads people travel, for the last twenty years mine has been in corporate America working for Fortune 500 companies, I expect that I would continue down this road hopefully with FedEx. For me personally, I would belief that I will not settle into a holding pattern once I enter my mid-forties.

I still feel very young in my career and am still learning new things everyday and I think that will continue for some time to come. With my position there are always larger corporations to sell to or manage Understanding and Applying Adult Development Theory 6 and as I continue to move my career forward I will work with larger and more complex corporations which will keep me moving forward and not settling. Understanding and Applying Adult Development Theory 7 References Bjorklund, B. , & Bee, H. (2008). The Journey of Adulthood, Sixth Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall