What Should You Pack for Your Career Journey?

BY Tim Londergan
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Every intern I came across in my work life got the same stale work-​dad joke: “Find out what you don’t want to do and don’t do that.” Some would roll their eyes, some smiled politely, while others, possibly, took it to heart. Regardless of how trite the phrase is, it still holds a bounty of wisdom. Generally, successful careers are built on a range of experience. And I wanted to encourage as much diversity as possible. Clearly, your career journey will take twists and turns whether by choice or circumstance. But overall, much of your future happiness and success depends on finding the right niche for yourself. Therefore, an important distinction is an emphasis on the journey rather than the destination.

Your career journey should honor your true north

If you don’t know where you want to go, almost any road will get you there. Decidedly, this is not the way to map out a career. Chris McGrath, writing for Forbes Business Council makes suggestions for planning your personal career journey. The task begins with defining your core values. “Understanding and formulating a relationship with your values defines your true north and allows you to make choices based on your priorities.” From there, he explains how to conduct a skills inventory. Then, he challenges readers to find what feels right in the workplace and where they excel. Once values, skills and interests are aligned, the general path is revealed. Completing the map requires doing research, honing skills, setting goals, and measuring progress along the way.

Your career journey may mix and merge your talents

Every seasoned traveler has their perfect packing list close at hand. They pack necessities plus helpful objects in anticipation of problems, opportunities or interruptions along the way. To some discerning travelers, packing is an art form. Importantly, your career journey deserves the same thoughtfulness. Change navigator, April Rinne, touts the benefits of a career portfolio. The value, she contends, is that a varied assortment of skills, traits and talents leads to greater ownership of your career.

A career portfolio grows more valuable over time

Human beings grow as we pile on experience with success, disappointment and humility. Understandably, we are much deeper than our careers. Rinne accounts for this in recognizing the creative career connections of where we have been and where we are going. Building a career portfolio prepares you to pitch your skills and make connections during conventional hiring discussions. “Your unique combination of skills, experiences and talents can be mixed, matched and blended in different ways.” The analogy of a diversified investment portfolio to a well-​crafted world of work gives you a new way to think of your career journey. “Curating your career portfolio is more than professional development: It’s how you design your life.” (Rinne)

A unique career portfolio rolls with the punches

Detours and roadblocks are natural occurrences along every career journey. However, thinking of your career as a portfolio allows you to ponder more agile and strategic moves. The author reminds us that portfolios are used to manage risks and returns on future investments. Further, Rinne realizes that hiring managers are hungry for talent with non-​traditional backgrounds. A diversified career portfolio connects the dots between the skills they are hiring for and the breadth of your experience. “Telling a good portfolio narrative requires understanding how the different things in your portfolio enhance one another.” (Rinne)

Pursuing a career journey, a personal work expedition or creating a career portfolio helps you determine your values, identify goals, maintain progress, and build steadily toward carving a niche for yourself.

Photo by Ravindra on Pexels​.com