Career Planning: What's in, What's Eternal, Don't Lose Yourself in Your Career Planning!

Article excerpt

During your collegiate years, planning for your professional development is one of your most valuable tools for career success. Self-assessment is the most essential aspect of your planning; it is the only aspect likely to lead you to career greatness. It is your starting point in an evolving process of professional development. Evaluating self, knowing how you process information, make decisions, and interact with the world around you, will help you discover the career that is right for you. Without self-awareness, you may lose sight of who you are. If you do, you may find that when you start your career you no longer know why you chose that career in the first place, because personal growth and development affect professional development. At no point in the process of professional development should you lose sight of the personality pursuing the career. So important is self-assessment that it ought to be done with a career counselor, a person trained in career development.

Planning your career development includes making certain that you have basic, academic competencies and skills employers expect of every college graduate. In addition to looking for internships, employers look for academic competencies in the following areas:

* Reading, writing and listening

* Problem solving

* Critical thinking

* Mathematics, especially basic statistics

* Computers, especially word processing

* Core humanities, social sciences and sciences

* A major discipline

* Interpersonal relationships, demonstrated by coursework and by membership in organizations

* Cultural diversity, demonstrated by coursework in ethnicity and by global study [see page 142]

Your career planning at this stage means designing your curriculum and experiences around these core competencies so that you do not graduate without them. It includes personally assessing how well you acquire these skills, because colleges and universities never set these skills forth in measurable terms. Standards of colleges and universities differ; standards within departments within institutions differ. Because these core competencies are not offered in measurable terms, your career planning should include an early internship or summer job in an area related to your intended career so that you can evaluate your own skills against those already successful in the work-world. Because you will need to design your own curriculum, as much as you can on your campus, and set measurable standards that will allow you to do well when you are employed full time, you need to intern as early as the end of your freshman year. Several internships, especially at the same place, and summer jobs are likely to help you get a full time job when you graduate. They will certainly help you with your self-assessment.

Integrating curriculum design, internships, and self-assessment into an agreeable whole is complex, so consult your career counselor. Career counselors often can see enough pattern among your courses and experiences to point out your general fields of interest. The amount of time expended acquiring good grades in courses in the various academic areas may reveal your academic strengths to a career counselor, who is trained to identify patterns -- that you may not see -- of good grades in related academic areas, "A's" in writing courses, math-intensive courses, or business-related courses, for example.

You might well remember Frederick Douglass' perception, however: [Your] education is [your] responsibility, no one else's. So consider starting your career development around the strengths and weaknesses you discover during an internship or summer job at the end of your freshman year or at any time throughout your academic or professional career.

What's in? Acquiring self-assessment depth

Assessing your "emotional intelligence"

A few lucky people discover the secret of career satisfaction and greatness, but most of us, for most of our lives, are torn between what we think we can do and what we (or others) think we ought to do. …