Career planning is an ongoing process. You are likely to continue thinking about how to steer your career for the rest of your working life. This is partly because the job market changes frequently and sometimes greatly, and also because workers these days are more willing to change jobs and switch the course of their careers.
What is a Career?
A career is a series of carefully planned moves that a person executes in order to remain in the line of work they find satisfying. Sources and kinds of satisfaction can vary widely, as do the ways in which individuals decide to pursue their passions. The idea of a career implies planning, and planning implies that you are making choices about what kind of work you will do. This means that, these days, people with careers are usually people with a lot of education and a long track record of efforts to surround themselves with the kinds of people they enjoy working with. Read more…
The degrees you earn are a critical part of your career building process. If you think about how long it took you to get to college, you can think about all those years you spent preparing for college (and then preparing to make progress towards your college degree) as the years you have been shaping yourself up for a career. A university degree is an indication not only of your knowledge within a particular academic of professional field, but also of your ability to complete a complex, multi-phase project. This is why employers are willing to pay you more money to do more complicated jobs that people without degrees wouldn’t be able to get or do. Still, many jobs which pay a salary on which you can survive in New York City, such as teachers’ jobs, can’t be had any more without an advanced degree, such as a Master’s degree.
Specialists in career planning say that after a while, your major no longer matters. But do your grades matter? Usually, yes. This because good grades are an early indicator of someone’s talents and skills: college is very little about intelligence, and very much about persistence, planning, organization, and consistent work, which is what employers are looking for as well.
Looking for a Job Means Looking for People to Work With
Finding a job is more like an art form more than like a science. Although your main qualification is your degree, there are millions of others with a degree like yours, millions already in the job market, and millions more about to get a degree just like yours. This is not a particularly cheery picture with which to enter the job market, but it’s also one that makes it very clear what it is that the employers may want to hear from you. They will assume you have a degree, and they will want to hear how it is that you–the particular person you have become in the process of getting an education, living a life, contributing to your community, having interests that have nothing to do with your academic field–can contribute to their organization. Getting people interested in talking to you and finding our what special contributions you can bring takes time. The process of getting to know people and letting them know that you will be interested in finding a professional job upon graduation takes a long time. We call this process networking. Some statistics suggest that more than three quarters of open positions go to candidates who had established a connection to the organization before applying.
Networking: Remaining Active and Connected
Career changes, improvements, and derailments can happen for any number of reasons. Jobs these days are different from the jobs people had only a couple of generations ago in that hardly anyone remains in the career they first chose. While some of the changes are occasioned by the sweeping shifts in the job market (e.g., recessions, economic crises, natural disasters), some of them have to do with individuals’ ability to remain interested and informed about the changing jobs and activities, and their willingness to start working in a new job, with the new people, under the new terms. (Psychologists say that a job change is comparable to moving and divorce in the level of stress that it occasions.) In addition to continuing education, networking with colleagues is a crucial way to keep abreast of changes and challenges.