The career ladder


I’ve been thinking lately about people’s careers and how everyone approaches them so differently. One of our sons is in a stage where he has clear ideas as to what he will and won’t do when it comes to looking for work after university. For some people, this approach works out very well – know what you want, go for it, and good things will happen! The down side is that it is possible to set one’s sights so high that the perfect opportunity never comes and meanwhile some decent ones are missed.

Another approach which I have read about – but have no experience with – is the idea of an unpaid internship which seems to be offered as a way to get the proverbial foot in the door. I understand, though, that one unpaid internship can lead to another with no guarantee that paid work ever comes of it.

A middle path is what several people who work at PGB seem to be following – starting in a role that was entry level or in a specific area and then progressing in their work to take on more  or different responsibilities. Three cases are particularly on my mind –  two senior bakers who moved into the catering group, and the manager of customer service who started as a customer service professional and now manages customer service in all three stores and does social media work for us that would likely be done by a team of five in a larger company!

I have such respect for people like this – they start where they land, work really hard, ask for more or different responsibility,  and just keep giving their all. I know without a doubt that this type of person gets rewarded in the end even though there is rarely a guaranteed date by which the payoff comes. Either their employer continues to develop and promote them, or they take their hard-earned skills to a company which can. I don’t even want to think about great people leaving my business but it makes me happy knowing that they are gaining skills that would be coveted by public companies!

Everyone needs to manage their careers in ways that work for them…but I think that regardless of which path is followed – aim high/work for free/work up where you are – the key thing is to work as if THIS job is the pinnacle of jobs and do the very best work possible. I’ve seen this approach work out for people countless times, as hard as it can be to do work that is not exactly the end game.


About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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