When you were younger, you were probably asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
You might have answered that you wanted to become a doctor, so you could heal the sick. Or maybe an engineer like your Dad, so you could build the tallest buildings. Or perhaps a lawyer, so you could defend those who can’t defend themselves.
However, adolescent dreams often dissipate in the face of reality. Even though you may be on your way to graduating from college, you also may find that you didn’t really want to become a doctor. However, that brings these realizations bring their own of challenges, as finding a great job is tougher than you imagined. What can you do to avoid taking a job just so you can cover the bills? Can that path be circumvented? Can you really find – and enjoy – the job of your dreams?
You can, but you must start as early as possible and you have to plan carefully. With that in mind, below are five steps to start your career planning NOW:
#1—Choose an occupation.
Everything flows from this crucial first step. Deciding what you want to become will lead you to focus on your next steps, so give this careful thought and solicit the input of others if you believe it will help you make the correct decision.
#2—Research fields of specialization.
For example, if you want to become a doctor, then you can specialize in surgery or pediatrics. Or if you decide to become an engineer, maybe you can choose civil or mechanical engineering. Choose the specialization that you’ll have a passion for in the long run.
#3—Plan your short-term and long-term goals.
An example of a short-term goal is to land a job as a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins Hospital. An example of a long-term goal is to be become the most sought after pulmo-pediatrician at Johns Hopkins Hospital and be part of the faculty of the Department of Medicine.
#4—Equip yourself with professional skills so you can climb the career ladder.
Most employers promote staff to managerial posts when they are ready to take on the role of management. This, of course, requires skills acquired over time. The earlier you hone your craft, the earlier your efforts will be recognized.
#5—Always think with the end in mind.
This means paying attention to how today will affect your ultimate goals. Every action you take and each relationship you build will have an impact on your future, so make sure that those actions and relationships are positive in nature.
Planning a career is comparable to saving and investing early. The earlier you put aside savings for rainy days, the more your money will grow. The earlier you start planning for your career, the more time you have to invest in that career . . . and the more it will grow, too!