A "day in the life" retrospective

Jun 04, 2024

The Careers Company launched the series “A day in the life of a…” back in 2022. Meena Anand, founder of the company, was inspired to launch this campaign because of her own happy memories of growing up with The Sunday Times being a constant feature in her house. As she recalls, “every Sunday my dad would walk to the local newsagent to buy the paper and we’d all eagerly await his return for our favourite sections of the newspaper. Mine was always the magazine and particularly the back inside cover - “A Life in the Day” series.


This section of The Sunday Times began in 1977, and has provided a unique take on the lives of the famous, the rich and the notable over decades of changing attitudes and lifestyles - everyone from Nelson Mandela to Ricky Gervais!  It makes irresistible reading as we discover how world leaders start their day and what celebrities really do away from the camera. Meena continues, “as a child of immigrant parents, the series helped normalise the life of a celebrity or politician and made it more achievable.”


The series run by The Careers Company is a bit different, and its focus has evolved and expanded as the aims of the company itself have evolved. Our original intention was to “focus on individuals who have had careers often thought of as unobtainable.” The aim was to “shine a light on their careers but more importantly share quirky and mundane details of their average days.” Over time The Careers Company shifted focus onto diversity in the workplace. As our website says, “we know it’s no longer just about who gets into organisations but also about who achieves career success and how.” 


With our new focus of helping people from all walks of life to not just get a step on the career ladder but to climb to the top, we expanded our range of interviewees to those who were no less interesting, but who perhaps had more modest roles. Our definition of “diversity” has also expanded over time, and we are proud that our first 10 interviewees, whose thoughts are summarised below, have included different races, religions, sexual orientations and levels of mental or physical disability. 


One thing that has remained the same throughout is that we want to increase the type of careers that seem possible to our readers, we want to make these careers seem more attainable, and we want to increase social mobility through being transparent around these career stories. For the individual whose story we are sharing, it gives them and their life and work publicity, helping those from diverse backgrounds to have a public voice and presence. 


One consistent question throughout the series has revolved around what career success means to them. As we will see, each person’s definition of career success is different. It is as individual as the people themselves. This is important as career success is personal, and goes beyond the traditional corporate view that career success means more, more, more! Whether that be more money, more promotion and so on. Indeed, during interviews, one thing that emerged was that when individuals succumbed to the allure of external measures of success, it actually sapped their motivation and had an adverse effect on their productivity and mental health. A more intrinsic source of motivation is needed.


At The Careers Company we are passionate advocates of having effective and quality career conversations. We hope to put this into practice through listening to our interviewees and being true to them in our articles. Giving them time and space to reflect and define what career success means for them. Taking time to crystallise your thoughts about career success can boost confidence in oneself and one’s work. You may want to take time after reading this article, to ask yourself what is your definition of career success?


So without further ado, here we present a round-up of our 10 brilliant “day in the life” interviewees so far! We summarise their nuggets of insight into what career success means for them…


Number 1 in our series back in November 2022 was Rashda, who was a trained Barrister. Rashda’s definition of career success lies in striving for excellence. As she says, “success for me has always meant doing what I'm doing - whatever it is, whether I’m cleaning the kitchen or whether I'm appearing before the Supreme Court - doing it really well”. 


Ami who was an Ambassador was interviewee number 2. For her, career success is striving to actually realise your goals no matter what it takes. In her own words, “it is never giving up in the face of challenges, staying the course and being determined”. She certainly did this, reaching the pinnacle of her career and serving her country. 


Number 3 in the series was Author Katharine. Katharine’s definition of career success has evolved through her life, demonstrating the adaptability of her character. Also infectious with Katharine was her sense of fun. In her current career as a budding novelist, career success means “getting published and doing signing events”....and “having a ball” at the same time!


Talent Transfer Evangelist, Tracy was interviewee number 4. Tracy believes she has a different take on what career success means, having had an eclectic journey spanning multiple sectors. However, for Tracy, regardless of the sector, “the fundamental definition of success is around learning”, constantly building on her knowledge base in order to perform better.


Number 5 in the series was Entrepreneur Aisha. Passionate about representation in the workplace and wider world, for Aisha career success meant aligning her personal sense of “calling” to the world of work and having “freedom” to do what she loves. Marrying the two, she sums it up by saying “for me it's not just a professional duty, but a personal one.”


Farida, who was a Family Worker, was interviewee number 6. The very humble Farida was by no means “ordinary” as she described herself. However, her humility and selflessness came across in her definition of career success which revolved around being able to help others. She says, to even make a “small difference” in a family's life “is career success for me”.


Number 7 in the series was retired Magistrate Sylvia. The needs of the community which she served was forefront in Sylvia’s mind throughout her career. Straddling two cultures, she offered particular insight into racial issues and needs. Sylvia’s definition of career success is “to have made a contribution to the community.” This fact was recognised with an OBE. 


Disability Advocate, Isaac, was interviewee number 8. Isaac’s definition of career success originally was that “whatever I was doing I was having fun doing it.” This definition got confused for a while when he began to have a public “voice” and he sought more public engagement. However, he is glad to now have come “full circle” in that he’s back to “doing it because I enjoy doing it.”


Number 9 in the series was Mental Health Coach, Hanli. In Hanli’s own words, career success means “doing the thing that I am most passionate about – helping people to live their best lives.” It’s important to Hanli to model this in her own life, to be “the best version of myself on a daily basis.” To this end she takes daily care of her own overall wellness. 


Environmentalist, Sara, was interviewee number 10. Sara was eager to find something that would make her “get out of bed in the morning.” That something is working in environmentalism. This cause combines what are for her the three ingredients of career success - “accountability”, having the “opportunity to grow” and “knowing what you do matters.”


We hope you enjoyed reading our 10 “day in the life” stories so far. Keep an eye on our blog here for more! 

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.