Living Articles

Honest Work: Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Our anonymous panel answer one of the more painful interview questions. But this time they’re telling the truth.

The Textile Designer

I specialise in the screen-printing process, printing and design for fashion and interiors. Living and working in London.

"I ask myself this question quite often as I find running my own business gives me the feeling of wanting to always look ahead!

I like to believe I will still be working within the creative side of my business, but the admin likes to take over.

I hope that in five years I will be working with lots more exciting brands and business helping them to develop their print designs using current and advanced techniques within the screen-printing process.

My personal business dream is that my own home and lifestyle brand will become more successful and recognised in the interior and homeware sector. As long as I stay focused, positive and enthusiastic in all that I do I hope to go forward into new and exciting aspects of my print design career."

The Pilot

I am a pilot, based outside of the UK.

"Weird as it might be, the hierarchy of pilots is defined by which chair they sit on in the aircraft. As you walk into the flight deck, surrounded by all the buttons, levers and switches are two prominent seats for the operating crew.
The right hand seat is where you sit at the start your career, as a first officer (co-pilot). Here you will stay until you gather enough experience and collect those all-important thousands of hours in the skies, until it is finally time to make the transition to the almighty left hand side: the captain's seat!
So, in five years time... Hopefully a game of cockpit musical chairs will not be too far off into the future!"

The Diplomat

I work on global issues. I currently live and work in London.

"I used to dread the 'where do you see yourself in five years' question or even worse, the 10 years question. Which is probably why I'm not yet a millionaire - or have managed to sort out at least one war in the world!

I had gotten used to life in the fast lane: deadlines five minutes ago, just about knew what I'd be having for dinner or, at a stretch, where I might want to go for the family summer break. But two events in my life last year made me think a lot more about personal and career goals and how I want to push myself to achieve them.

T.S. Elliott's quote : "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go" resonates with me and how I have begun (and want to continue) to challenge myself to fully optimise opportunities. I don't want to settle for anything less than the best of me, whilst also having fun and learning lessons along the way!"

The Supply Chain Team Leader

I live in Aberdeen and work in Oil and Gas.

"I see the next five years as more family time than work time, so I would like to have one or two children.  If this happens my husband and I both intend to cut down our working hours to four days a week, so that we can both have a day of childcare as well as some nursery days.  We hope that the legal requirement for all employees to be considered for flexible working will allow us to do this.  In terms of my job: in five years I see myself in a similar work role, but I would want to lead a slightly larger team."

The First Jobber

I graduated in 2014 and joined the Civil Service. I’m about to move to Brussels for a secondment.

"Having only relatively recently entered the world of work, I'm still not sure what career path I want to take. That said, the more projects I take on at work, different roles I try out, and people I meet, the better an idea I'm getting of the vague area I'd like to focus on.

However, I'm not worried about changing my mind later on and I find that people my age are used to hopping between jobs, so that seems quite normal to me. It also takes the pressure off feeling like you have to decide what you want to do the minute you leave university.

So even though I don't know what I'll be doing in five years' time, I'd like to be the sort of person that my current self sees and thinks, 'wow, she's done a lot already and seems like someone to watch in the future'. I can think of a few women and men I've met who inspire that feeling in me, and it really encourages you to aim high - even if you don't exactly know what you're aiming at."

The Shelf Stacker

I work for a major supermarket in the Midlands and am also studying accountancy.

"In five year's time I will certainly not be in my current job, or working in the retail sector at all. I will have completed all of my current studies in accountancy and be in an accounts assistant role, hopefully working my way up in a decent company.

I am not hugely ambitious, hence being stuck at 43 in bottom tier shopwork, so I'm not interested in climbing the ladder too high. Just high enough to be trusted to do my job and to be left alone with it, mostly, will suit me.

Looking even further, I'd love to one day start my own accounting business and move down south to somewhere pretty. But one step at a time, I certainly need a good amount of experience in an environment that is currently alien to me."

The Charity Helpline Manager

I manage a telephone helpline, which is entirely staffed by volunteers. I live just outside London and work from home. My colleagues are based across the country.

"My dream scenario for five years time would be that my husband, kids and I would be on six month sabbatical from work/life/school and be travelling around the world.  That's our current aim and so we're working and saving hard to try and make this happen.

If I'm still in my current job, then I hope the ideas and projects I'm working on now will have helped to make the organisation I work for more secure and sustainable.  If I have moved to another organisation then I'd hope to be in a role like 'Head of Volunteering' at a large charity where I could be helping develop and engage volunteers to make a positive difference.

Alternatively I might consider setting up my own business, possibly doing the kind of thing I do now but on a freelance/consultant basis, or maybe doing something entirely different like pizza making!

In short, I don't really know what I'll be doing in 2021, but in the meantime I'll be trying to do my best to make the most of whatever opportunities come my way."

The Scientist

I am a scientist in the medical world living and working in London.

"In five years I hope to be at the next stage on the academic career path: to have my own mini research group set up, in a permanent lectureship position at a top university and making amazing discoveries for science.

In reality I expect i'll be tearing my hair out after I receive yet another 'your grant bid was not successful' e-mail and perhaps even contemplating turning towards the shiny luring lights of industry. Not that this would be a less pressured environment. Perhaps the real answer is 'sobbing. In five years' time I'll be sobbing'. For now though I haven't received a rejection e-mail in a while, the sun is shining and I'm going with my opening optimistic line."

The Religious Institution Manager

I am a charity executive director. I live in London and am married with two grown up children.

"I am 55 and, to be honest, in five years' time I don't want to be working. However, I am trying to leave my present job and applying for other jobs at the moment, so I answer this question at interviews with  'I see myself contributing to [this organisation] ....'  even though I think that five years is long enough in most jobs in my sector."

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