I realize your column deals mostly with the challenges facing employees and supervisors. In my case, I will be entering the workforce shortly with a degree and some relevant experience. What advice can you give me as I plan for my career?
A degree and relevant experience sounds like a great start. Career planning, in my view, is all about passion. You need to be excited about your choice because you’ll be spending so much of your time in your chosen profession.
It has been my privilege to teach university students for many years and when asked a similar question to yours I often recommend making two lists: “Things I’m good at” and “Things I like to do”. I then suggest drawing lines connecting common items on both lists.
Although this approach is not overly precise it can be helpful. When embarking on a career, it is desirable to consider a job which appeals to you not just on the basis of competence.
“What is my dream job?” can be a useful question to ask yourself. If you’ve been entranced with, say, becoming an astronaut or world-class chef, go for it! The journey of pursuing your dream will be just as rewarding as the destination.
Remember, too, that the practical side of a job such as the rate of pay, office hours and vacation time, for example, can be important but they probably won’t give you much lasting satisfaction.
It is important to be flexible as you plan for your career: opportunities will emerge and others will vanish. Stay focused but do realize that life in general will not always go smoothly: setbacks should be anticipated.
In researching the opportunities in your chosen career area, it is often productive to speak with someone working in the field. Use probing – but courteous – questions and don’t accept answers that are overly vague or noncommittal.If further education is needed, seek out universities and other institutions that are accredited and speak with an advisor about getting started sooner rather than later. Ideally, programs that can be taken part-time while launching your career can be especially desirable.
Career planning can be a wonderful experience, full of adventure and anticipation. Be sure to pursue your passions and dreams and recognize that it won’t be all “smooth sailing” as you prepare yourself through significant experience, education and hard work.