A helmsman navigates the course with a rudder. Individuals navigate their course with a life plan. Without a rudder, the helmsman has no control over direction and without a plan, you have no control over your life’s direction. Of course, as time passes, circumstances and the wind change, course corrections will be needed. Here I will detail tips to mapping your career path.
Mapping Your Career Path – Overview
Some people have laser-guided focus on their career choice early on, but many do not. The good news is that you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Seek out voices of experience to give you a glimpse of possible future outcomes that you want to either pursue or avoid.
The following are examples of doubts that many people have soon after starting their first corporate job:
- Should I have majored in a discipline that was more marketable or lucrative?
- This job is tedious and boring; what should I do?
- I shouldn’t have settled for something I can do, and instead, trained for something I want to do.
Here’s the thing, maybe you are headed in the right general direction, but your focus is slightly off. Accounting, finance and business might have been the right general direction, but because of the many different flavors, maybe a mid-career course correction is needed.
Maybe you prefer cost accounting over nonprofit accounting, banking over insurance, or auditing over posting accounting entries for a restaurant operator.
Tips for Mapping Your Career Path
How do you confirm that the path you are on is the best one? Here are a few pointers to assist you.
Take aptitude tests to identify your innate traits and abilities that most directly align with professionals in various careers. The results of aptitude tests will suggest a variety of fields and professions for you to consider.
When you see the list, you may say, “That makes sense.” Just think of your relief when your inner self aligns with the aptitude results!
Talk to seasoned professionals about their careers. This is an excellent opportunity to get an inside peek at a large number of professions. Your thoughts may range from: I can’t do that! Why would they talk to me? I am too nervous!
I’d like to share a secret with you: most professionals are looking for ways to engage with younger adults. Youth brings energy and its one that people want to be around. With this in mind, consider that you are bringing an immediate strength to the conversation.
How to Approach Potential Mentor?
Take that first step by approaching someone you know and inquire if you could ask a few questions, specifically career related. Here are some examples:
- What do you like/not like about your job?
- Do you get to travel much? By yourself or with a team?
- Do you think I might like _______?
- What courses or certifications would I need to prepare for a career in ______?
Once you break the ice, the conversation will flow easily, and they may introduce you to other interesting adults.
Tips to Mapping Your Career Path – Summary
Having a career path that is maps is very important. You should review it at least on an annual basis to see if your preferences and goals have changed. Without a plan, it will be like you are navigating a challenging and important course without a rudder!
For more articles like this, be sure to check out the Professional Development section of The Daily CPA.
Alan L. Oppenheimer, CPA, MBA has worked for both large and medium size companies and experienced a variety of management styles and business situations over his 40+ years of professional tenure. Alan has also consulted for several companies in situations such as mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcy, bank loans, forecasting, and year-end audit preparation.
For more insight and direction for productively handling issues that are encountered in the workplace, learn more in his quick read, Workplace Secrets Revealed (Passing the Baton to the Next Generation).