A new school year means new planners, new energy, and new thoughts about what you want to achieve in the future. There is an air of positivity and excitement that only exists right before classes begin. In the thrill of the new year, do not disregard your future. Instead, take the time to plan your career in September before classes become hectic and deadlines approach.
Find Fields That Intrigue You
When it comes to career planning, all first steps should lead off with acquiring information and knowledge. Ask friends and family about what they do; search for careers that seem interesting; attend events hosted by different societies and schools. This step should not be rushed – it is vital to find what you really like and can imagine doing for the rest of your life. Look at new fields and expanding job markets- some paths have more potential than others. There are websites that predict the growth rates and salaries of occupations.
Understand Skills and Qualifications Needed
Ask yourself: what soft and hard skills do successful people in this field have? Do you need extra degrees or certifications? Are there other qualifications that might be needed, like a driver license, work experience, or other areas of knowledge? Find out what skills you already possess and find ways to master new ones (like taking classes, reading books, or watching videos). Write down the skills and qualifications you have and see if they lend themselves to your chosen interest.
Look at Career Paths
Once you have ascertained what you are best suited towards, learn more about the structure of that career. Understand the timeline it takes to reach certain levels or titles in careers. A goal can be, “I want to be a CEO one day.” However, there are many other goals that come before that, and each of them should be included and considered. Any field that you are envisioning to be your own should have a progression that you can find online. This step is vital in the writing of your career plan.
Write a Career Plan
The previous steps become part of your Career Plan. List out your options and skills; set short and long term goals; give yourself deadlines and timeframes for those goals; and keep checking back. A Career Plan should be a living document, meaning it will change and develop as you do. Track your progress, add or alter goals, or make new ones as you learn more. Career Planning is something that you will have to work on for the rest of your life. Enjoy learning about yourself and find ways to stay motivated to keep getting closer to your goals.
Once everything is collated, review and edit your plan. Ensure that it is realistic and attainable. Then, use SMART Goals to plan steps you can take this year. This can be anything: applying for internships, joining specific societies, or attending career events. Internship and job applications open throughout the year (some close at the end of September) so set reminders on your phone or set alerts on your computer. There are many companies like Indeed, St Andrews’ Careers Page, or various others that can aid in the search. The sooner you start, the more opportunities are out there to find.