By Julianne Brown
Career Coach, APUS
I can remember always saying as a child, “When I grow up, I want to be a ….” followed by whatever my dream career was at that time. While we adults might now laugh at such juvenile dreams, having a career plan early is actually crucial to achieving success later in your chosen field.
Why should you spend four years getting a biology degree when you actually plan to work in the information technology field? Why not make a plan early, get on your career path and take the steps needed to meet your goals?
I am a prime example of the situation I just described. In college, I worked toward a biology degree. When things didn’t work out, I changed my major to business. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and then began working toward an MBA.
“What do you want to do?” people may ask. My response? I have no idea. Only recently did I actually take the time to develop a career plan for myself and the steps I needed to get there. I am one of the lucky ones because my education correlated with my goals. For other people, however, that is often not the case.
Creating a Career Plan Early Helps You Later in Life
If you are among those looking to align your education with your goals, consider the following steps to get your career path on track:
- Be a planner.
Do you want to be a millionaire? Maybe travel a lot for your work? Cool – do it. Make a plan and then write down the realistic steps you will take to achieve your goals.
Consider creating long- and short-term goals. By writing down your goals and the steps to get there, you will develop an accurate visual image of where you want to be and how you will get there.
- Ask yourself valid questions.
What are your passions? What will make you successful? How do you want your career to end up? Are your goals realistic? Make sure you choose a career path that involves something you can be successful in doing.
- Follow your dreams – not the money.
“I want to work in ______, because of the money” is an all-too-common goal. While there could be high-paying jobs in a particular field, that probably is not where you want to set your sights if you have no knowledge or experience in that field. What you would LIKE to do (not be) is more important in career planning.
Remember, you are developing a plan for what you want to do for the rest of your life. So it is important to find something that is of great interest to you.
Career planning can be a stressful process. However, there is nothing more rewarding than setting goals and taking steps to achieve them.
Make time for yourself to truly figure out where you want to be. Make that list and work toward your goals every day. And if you need extra assistance in career planning and exploration, contact us at CareerServices@apus.edu.