©1999 by Arthur Warmoth, Ph.D.
Published in the AHP Perspective (Aug.-Sept. 2000)

How to Construct a Postmodern Career:

A Note to My Students (& My Children & Grandchildren)

Arthur Warmoth
Sonoma State University

Most of the humanistic psychologists of my generation have made our careers within the framework of the large institutions of the industrial era: education (which is largely government-supported), private practice (which is dependent on government and/or insurance industry support), and consulting with business and industry. However, for a number of reasons, many of them associated with the communications and information processing revolution, opportunities in the first two areas are relatively static or even shrinking--and therefore becoming more competitive--while the rules of the game in the third are changing dramatically. For that reason, the career strategies that worked for our generation are not likely to continue to work so well in the future.

Therefore I am offering some thoughts about how young people might go about developing a career strategy:

1. Acquire a good liberal education that gives you a broad knowledge about how the world works and a deep knowledge of your own psyche. (Majors related to the history and evolution of consciousness and its application to human development and human service can also be useful.)

2. Develop a clear vision of the area of knowledge creation and brokering within which you want to make a contribution to society; that is, get clear about your intellectual passions or "calling."

3. Collaborate with a group of trusted colleagues to:

--Find or create an information rich environment (both in cyberspace-time and geographic space-time) that relates to your calling, and systematically contribute to making this environment even richer and more useful, without regard to reward or immediate return.

--Look for opportunities to add value within that environment where your contribution can be turned into income through consulting contracts, projects, or--the least promising area--jobs.

4. Participate in marketing networks that will disseminate information about the value of your information network and your own knowledge and skills. (Depending on the area of your calling, this network might be focused on regional, state, or global markets, or on all three levels. National markets, while continuing to play a role, are likely to diminish in importance relative to the other three levels of scale in the future. Global regional markets--North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa--may also grow in importance.)

5. Participate in lobbying networks that will disseminate information about the value of your information network and your own knowledge and skills to the collective well-being (the "commons"). (Local, regional, and state governments are the most likely clients for symbolic analysts with expertise in human development and human service).

6. Participate in investment networks that can take care of your security needs and deal with the fact that in the future an increasing share of middle class incomes may come from participation in the global high technology economy through investment. [A number of investment vehicles have been invented that reflect the community-oriented and ecological values of the "culture creatives" (Paul Ray’s term)--such as ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plans) and socially responsible investment firms--and others will be created in the future.]

7. Participate in quality of life-oriented networks that advocate for your values in the public sphere, and which will generate public (collective) policies and purchases that will enhance the quality of your life, rather than your level of personal consumption.

8. Budget time for a whole person, real time life. Take care of your health, your human relationships, and your soul.

In seeking to define your calling, consider that the following economic sectors have tremendous growth potential and oppoortunities for creative, non-traditional entrepreneurialism in the information economy:

  • Trade
  • Education
  • Applied Research
  • Health Care
  • Tourism (especially educational, ecological, and cultural tourism)
  • Investment Information Services
  • Politics
  • Environment & Ecology
  • Recreation, Sports, and the Arts
  • Personal Services

Several sectors which were major growth areas of critical importance to the modern industrial economy will shrink considerably in terms of their manpower needs (not in their functional economic importance) in the postmodern economy:

  • Financial Services (Since money is essentially quantified information about value, this sector has lent itself to the process of global information integration more readily than any other. However, it is also the area where the greatest productivity gains through automation can be realized in the future. Non-competitive complementary money systems, competitive reductions in interest and service charges, and cost-effective complex economic planning are among the many developments that can be expected soon.)
  • Basic Research
  • Manufacturing
  • Middle Management in general.