Map Out Your Success: A Guide To Creating A Career Development Plan

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story by Trixie Cordova

Scroll through your Facebook feed and what do you see? Where are your friends from high school and college, and what are they up to these days? Do you find yourself measuring your success relative to what you see online? German researchers warn that many people experience negative emotions such as loneliness, frustration and anger by comparing themselves to their peers on Facebook. The study, conducted by Humboldt University researchers in Berlin, noted that men and women feel pressured to present themselves in the best light to their Facebook friends.

The truth is, there is no formula for success. If your friend values family over career then her life goals involve good parenthood and housekeeping. If you value social change or making a positive impact on people’s lives, you should be planning on acquiring the needed skills and experience to help you achieve those goals. Your career depends on who you are, what you know, and what you do with the options you have on hand.

Disconnect from social media and start planning for your career. Here are techniques on how to create a career plan.

#1  Know yourself


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Stop by the bookstore and you’ll discover it is a melting pot of various personalities in search of the perfect book. There are homemakers, history buffs, hopeless romantics, scholars and even those who just love gazing at book covers. The decisions you make in your career, just as you would when choosing a new book, depends on your personality, interests and what you value in life.

What REALLY matters to you?

For a moment, look within yourself and figure out what truly matter to you. Research suggests that meditation helps in conditional goal setting, or the tendency to regard high order goals such as happiness. Find a quiet place where you can think deeply. Identify the core of your life – is it building your own family or to work abroad? Or perhaps you prefer building a good reputation over amassing wealth? There is no wrong answer, as long as you are honest with yourself.

What kind of adult did you dream you'd become?

Think about who you are and what you have right now. Are you the kind of adult your younger self would be proud of? If you are asking the golden question, “what is the impact of a career development plan to my future?”, the answer lies within you: better self-worth.

#2 Check your tools and areas of improvement


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If you envision an illustrious career in the tech industry, an international internship in Silicon Valley will definitely place you ahead of your peers. If you plan on working for a global non-profit organization, you need worthwhile volunteer or internship experience or can give you a competitive edge.  The bottom line is that you should constantly work at acquiring the tools needed to succeed in your field.Do you have the required knowledge and skills?

Make a checklist of your skills, including soft-skills, languages and others that will be needed in your field. A Wall Street Journal article noted that employers want prospective workers to be able to fill a role right away, without any training or ramp-up time. Companies hire candidates who could do the job with minimal training.

What else is missing from your armament?

If you believe that the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in your field are not available in your home country, you can consider a study abroad program. The US and the UK are still favorites for business and finance students. Meanwhile, schools in East Asia are gaining popularity for technology-based fields. Studying in a foreign country is not exclusive to rich families. There are college scholarships and grants available to deserving students. Explore financial aid options for students going abroad.

Internships abroad are hitting two birds with one stone. You get to boost your resume while traveling the world. This may also  be a more affordable alternative to studying 4 to 5 years abroad.

#3 Map out your options and choose


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Always be in the know about international jobs in your field. You may receive regular updates from employers, headhunters and industry publications, or you can also ask your university placement office for any upcoming vacancies that suit you. There are platforms such as Diversity Abroad that can connect your experiences as a successful student with a fruitful career.

Choose your battles wisely

There is always an opportunity to flourish amid calamities. The global financial crisis brought the world’s largest financial companies to their knees and discouraged many prospective business graduate students, especially those in the investment banking sector. This, however, can be an opportunity for tech students to come up with new technologies to help boost investor education and avert another bubble.

In choosing your battles, you should have a grasp of current globalevents – which among my skills are demanded, and where are they needed?


If there is one essential thing studying in college and internships teach, it is the importance of specialization. Being a jack of all trades can be useful in other facets of life, but when it comes to a fulfilling career, you need to develop a comparative advantage. Specialization is the way to go.

#4 Plan, execute and adjust your course of action


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“Vision without action is just a dream”. Your plan is a mere scrap of paper if you don’t act on itSet attainable goals and map out a feasible course of action. If summer internships abroad are too costly for you, you can explore the possibilities of doing a part-time job on the side. Remember that most interns work unpaid!


You may ask yourself, “why do I need a career development plan?” Can’t I just job-hunt the traditional way? You must face the fact that competition in the job market is stiffer than ever. You are not only competing with your peers. Employers are presented a novel and cheap way for getting things done: hiring freelancers at lower costs. You need to consider the roadblocks along your career path so you can strategize better.

Plans cannot stand still

The world changes, and so do employers’ requirements. If you want to survive the competition, you must be open to changes. Do an annual assessment of your career development plan and do revisions as needed.

Quit inviting negative thoughts and emotions by comparing yourself with your peers. You are your own person with different goals, skills and interests. One secret to life success is being true to yourself. Start with your career development plan.

Trixie Cordova


Trixie is the Student Outreach Coordinator at Diversity Abroad. She studied abroad in Italy as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, then went on to be an Assistant Language Teacher on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program for 2 years. She has her MA in International Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

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