The career planning cycle

Let your education, skills and values be the foundation for reaching your career goals.

Millenials must be prepared to handle rapidly changing career paths. | MSU Extension

Millenials must be prepared to handle rapidly changing career paths. | MSU Extension

According to Future Workplace’s Multiple Generations @ Work research, millennials expect to stay in a job less than three years on average. For the young employee, that could equate to 15 to 20 different jobs in his/her lifetime. With all that job-hopping, teens and young adults entering the workforce need a strong foundation to guide them on their future career path(s).

That strong foundation should be built not just on technical knowledge, but also with skills that can be transferred across disciplines or professions. These include things such as soft skills, which can be used in almost any job setting, financial literacy, essential for managing assets, debt and future retirements, and being a lifelong learner who is able to work with diverse populations.

With a strong foundation such as that, youth will be better prepared to handle these rapidly changing career cycles. For those millennials planning to change career paths frequently, it may be useful to know all the steps in the career cycle:

  1. Get to know yourself. What are the values you hold? What are your interests? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Find out who you are. While what you are good at may not be the same as what interests you, these questions can help guide your personal assessment and help you determine what type of job or career you may be interested in. This strong sense of self can lead to a successful work experience.
  2. Find what is out there. Try to find the job that is the best fit for you and your skills. If you value working with people, look for a job in the service industry. You may also want to consider the location of the company, the mission and the people you will work with. Find a job that you can be satisfied with: for many millennials this means finding a job that offers quality of life instead of a company or career they will be “married” to. Look for the type of work that satisfies your values, your skills and your education. That passion and purpose you find will carry over to your work.
  3. Choose. Make a decision but understand that this is not the end all, be all for your employment career. You may like the job now but you don’t have to make it a career if your passion and desires change over time. One job can often be a stepping-stone to another job, or even provide an exploration into a whole new career. However you feel, it will still be important to learn from the job you choose. If you decide to change jobs later, keep in mind that changing jobs can be risky and tiresome and may not always lead to higher earnings. That is why it is essential to have sound financial literacy skills to carry with you wherever you land. In addition, a savings plan can give you the cushion to bounce from one job to the next.
  4. Take action. Be a lifelong learner: take knowledge and skills from every experience and each job you take. All job experiences hold some benefits and learning opportunities, even if it is just to show you that you don’t like a certain type of work. As you learn more about yourself, map out your goals and set sail again with these experiences packed in your hull. The knowledge you have learned about yourself will help you pilot the course and the solid skills set you have developed will serve as your masts.

Michigan State University Extension offers many programs to help youth plan for these career cycles. These programs can also support young people in strengthening their foundation to allow for success, no matter what path they take. Visit the MSU Extension site and look for programs in youth entrepreneurship, financial literacy and career preparation.

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