Map Out Your Success: A Guide To Creating A Career Development Plan
There is no single formula to success, which is what makes our professional journeys dynamic and worth the while! Reflecting on your interests, what drives you and skills you want to acquire is useful to set a pathway.
While some of us are confident in our passions and career goals, some of us are still figuring out our interests and how to develop them into a profession. There is no single formula to success, which is what makes our professional journeys dynamic and worth the while! Reflecting on your interests, what drives you and skills you want to acquire is useful to set a pathway. For example, if you value social change or making a positive impact, consider what issues you want to address, research local, national and global organizations who are active in creating change and research the various roles and responsibilities within these organizations. What are some of the skills and experiences that are common among folks in this field? These are all questions to consider as you strengthen your career interests and develop a plan for success. Here are a few techniques to get started:
What is important to you?
The decisions you make in your career depends on your interests, values and personality. Research suggests that meditation helps in conditional goal setting, or the tendency to regard high order goals such as happiness. Take a moment to self-reflect on what this looks like for you. Find a quiet place where you can think deeply and identify your core values and interests – Is it family? Working abroad? Or financial wealth? There is no wrong answer, but pinpointing your must-haves in a career can assist with searching and selecting the right job for you.
Check your tools and areas of improvement.
After you’ve made a list of values, interests and desires, consider where you would like to see yourself in the next 1, 5, 10 years. If you envision a career in the tech industry, applying for and completing a tech-related internship for a major company will place you on a competitive path. If you plan on working for a global non-profit organization, consider organizations where you can volunteer or intern, or gain country-specific experience to give you a competitive edge. The bottom line is that you should constantly work at acquiring the tools needed to succeed in your field, whether it is through an internship, volunteer experience, research or project.
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 to visualize room for growth and development that will get you closer to the career you want. How many of those items do you have? And how many still need to be fine-tuned? Are there courses, trainings or projects you can partake in to gain the knowledge or skills?
Plan, execute and adjust your course of action.
Keep a running list of resources, programs, and acquired skills to refer to as you grow toward and in your profession. You can stay organized using Microsoft Excel (or another program that is suitable for you) to save internships and programs by due date. Stay in-the-know of current and future opportunities by opting into newsletters or email listservs to receive regular updates from employers, headhunters and industry publications. We suggest connecting with your on-campus career center to learn of vacancies and/or professional resources available to students and alumni such as mock interviews, resume reviews, information sessions and more. You can also utilize Diversity Abroad search engine to find programs, internships and graduate opportunities.
“Vision without action is just a dream”. Your plan is a mere scrap of paper if you don’t act on it. Set big-picture goals, but also set attainable ones within those larger goals. Create a plan of action for each and start going for it!
Be prepared for re-routes and detours - Plans cannot stand still.
The world changes, and so do employers’ requirements. To remain competitive, you must be open to changes. Do an annual assessment of your career development plan and make revisions as needed. Do you notice trends or new skills that will allow you to perform better or are now required for your desired role? Add these to your list and re-work your career plan accordingly.
As you navigate the process of applying for programs, internships or a job, you may not always move in the route you had planned, and that is ok! Sometimes our lives and careers take turns to teach us lessons and/or guide us in new directions. Just remind yourself that your goals, skills and expertise are your own. It is easy to compare your professional development to others and while it is great to use inspiration from others’ success, remember that your journey is your own.