Have you just finished your studies? Well, firstly congratulations on completing the academic chapter of your life! What awaits you now is the journey into the real world as you embark on your career path.
Career planning will play an important role in your career and it is something you need to do before you start looking for a job. Career planning can help solve various different anxieties from where you want to work, to what type of company to the career you are looking for and so forth. Whatever you are aspiring to do, career planning will definitely help you set a course toward the right career path.
So let us explore what career planning is, the necessary steps you need to take and what experiences you need to do that can help dictate your career.
What is career planning?
So what is career planning exactly? Well in simple terms, career planning is the process of matchmaking educational, training and professional opportunities that align with your goals, interests and passions.
Career planning is extremely important as it essentially dictates the career aspect of your life, which is about 50 years. That is not to say you have to do the same job for 50 years straight but having a career plan can dictate where you should be in your career at what given time. While it is true that not everything will fall according to plan, it is better to have some idea of how your career will take shape.
The process of career planning is done in three different stages. These stages include self-exploration, occupational exploration and educational planning and career planning. We shall discover each of these and how it is an integral part of career planning.
Steps of the career-planning process
The first phase is known as self-exploration. This is where you essentially examine things like your skills, values, experience, interests and education. The value evaluation stage is where you ask yourself what salary level you desire, whether you prefer a company with frequent interaction or the opposite, how much you want your work to contribute to society and how vital prestige is to the rest of your life. The interest evaluation is where you gather data about your likes and dislikes regarding a wide array of activities, people and objects.
The next part of career planning is what is known as occupational exploration. This is where you start to dig deeper essentially. Activities in this phase include gathering labour-market information, conducting informational interviews, attending career and job fairs as well as researching occupational and job profiles.
Lastly, the last part is educational planning and career planning. This is the phase where you essentially make a decision, you set your goals, use your problem solving and do action planning.
The whole idea of the career planning process is that you identify what you are good at. Explore how your skills, talents, values and interests translate into possible careers or jobs. In career planning, it is important that you match the following: your skills to existing jobs or careers, career goals to your financial needs as well as your career goals to your educational needs. Ultimately, you get to make the final decision, so make sure it is the right one for you!
Some additional tips to help build your career plan
To succeed in your career planning, there are various things you can do that will help you both in the short and long term.
The first thing that you can do that will really help with career planning is to pursue an internship. Nowadays, internships are seen as the way to enter the working world after your academics. When it comes to career planning, an internship is a must purely because you gain so much knowledge and valuable experience that will help you when planning your career. An internship will give you valuable insight into your chosen industry or profession and whether it is the right choice for you.
Similarly to doing an internship, another experience that could really help with career planning is pursuing a volunteering opportunity. Like an internship, or volunteering, you gain valuable experience as well and one of the benefits of it is that you learn a lot about yourself. Experiences such as volunteering and internships really help the self-exploration phase of your career planning.
Then a top tip that is guaranteed to help you succeed in career planning is the idea of networking. Networking nowadays is extremely important as up to 85% of jobs are literally filled as a result of networking. It is therefore important that when you do your career planning you network wisely as well. Ideally, you should connect with industry professionals or others that can positively contribute to your career. The power of networking is one that provides numerous opportunities and one that needs to be taken advantage of!
What’s the difference between a job and a career?
Did you know that a job and a career are actually different? While the two are used interchangeably, they do not mean the same thing. An occupation that you have at any given point in time is what is referred to as a job whereas a career is essentially your whole working life. Whereas a job can be short or long-term, a career tends to be a long-term professional journey where you basically embark upon fulfilling your professional goals and ambitions.
Short and long-term goals
We are able to understand the difference between the two terminologies when we explore their short and long-term goals in more detail. So without further ado, let us start by discussing the short-term goals first.
Are those that can ideally be accomplished between six months to three years. With short-term goals, we are essentially talking about daily or weekly tasks that will help you in the short run. It is worth noting that short-term goals are necessary to achieve long-term goals.
There are a variety of short goals that one can set for themselves. The examples below are popular short-term goals that will also help you in the long term.
- Improve your time management to increase your own productivity at work.
- Improving your work routine by becoming more organized.
- Ensuring customer satisfaction and improving work efficiency by delivering projects on time.
- Learning new skills for the workplace by taking courses or continuing education.
- Networking with industry professionals, improving communication skills, receiving work feedback and exploring new opportunities.
When we talk about long-term goals, these genuinely seem to be more focused on a career rather than a job as a career is a journey that will span years or decades of your life. Long-term goals are those that can be accomplished in three to five years. As mentioned earlier, you need to work on your short-term goals as these can help your long-term goals too.
Goal setting takeaway
For your goals to match your career planning you need to create a career action plan that consists of both short and long-term goals. Goal setting is seen as extremely beneficial as it leads to fewer academic or work-related problems plus it helps people stay on track to accomplish the targets they set out for themselves.
Goals need to be specific, measurable, realistic, positive and actionable. It is also important to factor in flexibility in your career planning as throughout your career, it is very possible that your goals may change for example so you need to consider this too. Remember to check your progress as well by taking the time to check in with yourself every six months or one year to see if you are still on track or working toward the goals you set out at the beginning. Lastly, pair each goal with an action.
If you want to ensure that you enjoy a long and successful career then it is important that you implement the various career planning aspects discussed previously. Going through the various exploration phases as well as putting in the effort to discover through the likes of internships, volunteering and networking will definitely help you succeed in the long term.
If you are on the journey of starting a career then let us help you. AIP provides internship opportunities in 25 different industries across 18 locations around the world. We can tailor an internship to your specific needs and wants that align with your career goals or plan. Head over to our website and apply today!