Career Goals

Get some great tips on how to achieve your career goals. Keep reading to learn more.

Identifying what career goal(s) you want to achieve

Your career goals will be very much contingent upon your self-assessments that you completed. As you analyze the patterns that emerged in your Skill Inventory Matrix and your SWOT Analysis, you can begin to think about career paths for yourself. If you are unsure of what careers might be right for you, let your networking guide you. Up until I was in my senior year in college, I was certain I was going to go to graduate school in mathematics and/or anthropology and stay in academia. But as graduation loomed, I came to the firm realization that I was not interested in a life consumed by mathematical research, nor was I thrilled about pursuing the profession of a professor. But as I mentioned above, I had no idea what else I could do with my education and training. The reason I was ultimately able to carve a path in science communications, which led to every other career choice I have made, was because I was enthralled by and attracted to science outreach, writing, public relations, and marketing, even if I didn’t know that there was a job with the title of “science communications specialist.” I followed my interests towards opportunities that let me utilize “science communications” skills which led me to network with science communicators which ultimately led to my first job in the field.

TIP: If you are unsure of what career you want to pursue or with whom to network, begin by following your interests. There may be an actual job that exists that encompasses those interests, or you may just end up having to create the job yourself.

If, however, you know exactly what career you want right now, you can craft a networking plan that ensures you talk to people in the discipline of your choice to start making inroads into those networks and networking nodes, to position yourself in front of decision-makers, to amplify your brand and reputation, and to find out about hidden and non-hidden career opportunities. Specifically you want to learn the following:

  • What jobs exist in this field?
  • What career-making opportunities lead to these jobs?
  • What are the entry points to these opportunities?
  • How do people find out about opportunities?
  • What skills are needed for these positions?
  • What assignments are required?
  • What is the organizational/vocational culture surrounding these careers and jobs?
  • What kind of résumé/application is required?
  • What are the deadlines for the job and career opportunities?

TIP: Build a career plan that allows for contingencies and flexibility.

But even if you think you know what you want to do with your life now and in the future, and you have your heart and mind set on a “dream job,” you have to build a career strategy that allows for contingencies. I call this the “Astronaut” Syndrome. At some point in almost every nerd’s life, you probably wanted to be an astronaut. I know I did. But how many actual astronaut slots are there in any given year? The openings are extremely limited. Does this mean that if your aim is to become an astronaut you should give up on your dream? I don’t think you should—in fact, I think you should hunker down and do what you can to achieve it. But at the same time, I think you should be completely realistic and build a parallel career scheme that allows you to pursue an alternate career (or even set of careers) should you find that becoming an astronaut is not possible.

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