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Mapping Your Future: An Open Letter to Recent Grads

Author: Frederick Ezekiel Pasco

Dear graduate,

At the risk of sounding cliché’, we were all often asked, as children, what we were going to be when we grow up. Sometimes, even if we are already working, we ask ourselves a similar question. You see, choosing a career is only one part of the equation; in between landing your chosen profession is a seemingly endless onslaught of jobs, promotions, and things that may redirect you to another career.

One thing you may not have been told is that the lucrative job that you imagined as a kid has ladders. Not the physical ones of course, but the metaphorical ladders standing between you and that CEO or manager position you desire. Expecting to jump right out of college into a leadership position is infeasible and unlikely. There are levels to every job and company.

I’m not here to discourage you with this truth. Instead, I am going to fill you in on a little tip that helped and is still helping me.

Make a 10-year goal.

Now I’m not saying all of your career ambitions will be fulfilled at the end of the 10 years but 10 years is a good metric to see how far you’ve come. At the end of 10 years, you can take a look back. Was your overarching goal completed? What was accomplished? What happened? What can still happen? You should map out a path forward for yourself to land your holy grail of positions if you haven’t already. Ask yourself, is the point I'm at now where I wanted to be when I made my 10-year plan? Think long and hard and, if the answer is no, figure out what the necessary steps are to change the situation

Careers and jobs can go on for decades. Not just one. Sometimes people just get into their dream company and never leave. Sometimes people change careers halfway through. Things like these are normal and you should anticipate these as the years go on.

Make a 5-year goal.

5 years is not a long time when you consider the amount of time you've just spent in college. It is, however, a good stopping point to consider whether you’ve already gotten a foothold of your chosen industry. Are you making clear progress down a smooth path, or are you still trying to pave your way? What are the challenges you’ve overcome or and what challenges do you see yourself battling in the future?

At this benchmark, I’d like you to ask yourself, “Is this how I saw myself when I imagined where I'd be in 5 years, 5 years ago?” If your answer is still no, it’s okay. We’ll get there!

The Now.

It's okay if your 5 or 10-year plan doesn't include you remaining in the job that you are currently in, but it is important that when you look at where you are, right now, you like the way you see yourself. If not, it may be time to think about switching careers. It’s hard but it happens, and it will make you happier in the long run. The job you choose to be in know will help you determine your path for years to come, so choose wisely!

Map out your thoughts.

After you’ve determined your 10-year and 5-year goals, map them out. You don’t have to go into the specifics but have an outline of what you’ll do to achieve those overall goals. Have structure, set systems, and move with agency.

I think it’s incredibly important to focus on what you’re doing right now. As the saying goes, Rome was not built in a day. Your career is no different. Make a plan and every decision you make professionally should be in pursuit of that plan. Eventually, you'll get there!

We’ll see you down the road,

The Job Shop.

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