In your career, pick your major, but it is guaranteed to change

When it comes to career, many new hires are not sure this is what they really want. Newsflash! Many of us are still in this position 20-30 years later but there is one perspective that may reframe it a bit.

Imagine you are in university and you are trying to earn a degree, you need to understand the prerequisites required for those 4th year courses so you can progress toward earning the requirements to graduate. As you move through the 200 and 300 level courses they build on each other and they get more difficult, but you have built the skills and knowledge required to move through the coursework.

Sometimes, people get a couple years into their major and they learn that is really is not for them. At that point they change majors but because they have been progressing, they are provided credit for many of their courses taken in the original major and carry on to get their degree. But the point is to stay with a major and get progressing. On the other hand, if in university, you take all of the first year courses available in every faculty, that would take you years to complete and you would never have progressed past first year.

When it comes to your career, choose your major and get progressing! Now how do you choose your major and who is the guidance councillor that you can go to to plan out your courses so you get your degree? Well this is likely a number of people. These are people who have earned the degree you want! People who have reached your goal destination in your career. It is important to sit down with multiple people that you think you would like to be one day and understand their career paths, share your projected path with them and get their input. Do this with multiple people and senior leaders in your company. They will all have input and unique points of view to help you with your proposed path.

What you will find in this exercise is there is never one path; rather that everyone who earned those “degrees” that you want got there with a different group of prerequisites or classes. That will help you understand the variety available to you and the different paths you can take to get where you want to go. Another benefit of this exercise, is that you now have multiple Sr. Leaders understand your desired career path! They helped you build it!

Early in my career, I planned out every year to retirement. I had different experiences on there using our company “career map” that outlined the different experiences you need to get to progress as well as what capabilities I would learn and skills i would build in each role. I called out if the location would be international or local, what level I would be at, what customers I would be connected to, what categories I would be on all in an effort to round out my skills and become the Sr. Leader with the best profile and skill set for success.

I think socialised this plan and modified it over the years. It is the same plan that I use today and guide others that I mentor with.

In summary, pick your major, build your ideal career plan, socialize it with people you want to be like, broaden your reach with it, allow for flexibility, share it with others.

Good luck!

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