Do you have a degree in hand but no real plan for how you want to use it? I’ve worked with countless individuals who’ve enrolled in graduate degree programs without knowing exactly how they intended to use it later on down the road.
If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail
As Benjamin Franklin said, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” If you don’t have a plan for your career, there is no time like the present to develop one.
If your future career path is a blank slate, start by brainstorming your career ambitions from an experience standpoint.
Two Essential Experiences for Career Growth
If your intention is to grow as a manager or an executive there are two different types of experiences you need to be well-rounded. You need to have functional experiences in a particular industry or sector or speciality area. An example of a functional experience would be supply chain management.
You also need general management experiences.
Most people tend to be stronger, or more comfortable, in one of these two experience areas.
Currently, I’m working with an engineer who has held a variety of management roles. But he wants to work in solar and renewable energy. Since he doesn’t have that experience, he’s working to improve his functional experience.
Another engineer client of mine is an expert in his field. But his general management experiences are quite limited. He’s identified a few different kinds of general management experiences he would like to gain experience in in order to feel more prepared to take on significant senior leadership roles.
How do you actually go about determining what types of experiences to pursue and how to strengthen your skillset in order to qualify you for different future jobs?
Functional Experience Development
If you feel your shortcoming is functional experiences, one of the best ways to improve is by identifying leaders in that sector both inside and outside your organisation. This is where your networking skills are critical.
See who the leaders are in your functional area and network with them. If you establish a good relationship, one of those individuals might become a mentor and advocate for you
By getting to know the right people inside your own company, you may have the opportunity to do cross-training. Or if a position opens in that department, you may be a natural candidate since the right person knows who you are and is already aware of your interest to grow in that direction.
Developing Your General Management Experiences
General management experiences fall into a few different categories. One would be organisational growth or transition. For instance, do you want to be on an opening team or work for a start-up? That type of experience is very different from working for a large, international corporation with an established reputation.
Another consideration would be leadership responsibility. Would you like to lead a fledgling team and turn it around to be successful?
With so many travel restrictions in place now, it’s difficult to talk about geographic experiences, but typically this would be something to consider.
For anyone who’s ever travelled or studied abroad, I’m sure you understand the value of having experiences outside your home country, particularly when it comes to dealing with different cultures and communication styles.
An overseas posting might be an opportunity you’d like to consider. Or not. Is it unrealistic due to your family situation? Either way, know where you stand. If expanding your geographic experiences is something you want to pursue, start laying the groundwork for how that would occur when the time is right.
If you’d like more information regarding how to map out your career path, be sure to tune in next week to episode 6, where we will address how to “Pre-write your resume to set the stage for your career.”