“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale
Before you set out on a new job search or career path it can be helpful to define what success looks like for you so that you can recognize the destination when you see it. The next thing to do is to outline what it takes to get you there. Do you need more training? More information? Targeted connections?
Whether you follow a structured path or create your own, by defining a clear end goal and the steps that lead you in the right direction you can better evaluate the opportunities you encounter.
I have worked with career changers who were targeting data science roles but realized that what they needed for their next role was to be a data analyst. It wasn’t the destination they were looking for, but it was on the career path they outlined for themselves. By the same token, a mid-career data scientist took a job offer after interviewing the staff to make sure the company culture supported professional development. To him, this meant the freedom to move teams, expand roles, or experiment with technology as his interests and talent permitted.
When the right choice for you is to take a step in a direction rather than a giant leap into the unknown or pursue roles to get a foothold in a company so you can later move into your dream position, here are some things to consider:
How supportive is the company culture?
If current employees feel stuck and unsupported, that may not be a place to plant yourself and expect to feel nurtured. If development is encouraged, consider creating a plan that facilitates your own growth. Work with intention, even if that means finding your own mentor inside or outside the company.
Is the job for passion or for pay?
To find career satisfaction means to live in our purpose, but that does not always mean that our passion project is the one that pays us. A balanced life can mean you have a job that pays the bills and a side hustle or volunteer opportunity that is your passion. To make this happen it is important the job you take on allows you to have the time and energy to have a life outside of work.
How can you get the most out of this role?
Working with passion and purpose means aligning what you are doing with your goals. If your goal is to be a senior designer in two years, then one way you can do that is to define what it means to be at the senior level, and plan to gain that experience. This could be anything from owning a project from start to finish, mentoring others, or even increasing your depth of skill and breadth of knowledge so that you can work with minimal supervision. Partner with your manager or mentor to align your tasks with the skills you are looking to develop, or pinpoint opportunities where you can use your skills in wholly new ways.
The beautiful thing about your career is that you get to decide what success looks like from the opportunities you accept to the attention you give it.
“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver