What is my career path?

Imagine, just for a moment, this hypothetical employee situation. Juan has a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, and just before graduating, he had his first professional experience through an internship with a multinational company. After finishing, they offered him a full-time regular position. Sounds great, right? Of course! Fast forward 15 years later, Juan feels a bit down, because he has been doing the same thing, for the same company all his life. Does this sound familiar? Juan’s story is more common than you may think and could possibly be similar to your story as well.  Thank goodness you found this blog though! Now you can learn how to prevent this from happening in your career by planning your career path.

Before moving forward, we must first explain what a career path is. It is defined as a sequence of jobs that helps you reach your professional goals, whether they be long term or short term (“What is a Career Path?”; Doyle, 2020). It can also be described as a group of moves or strategies that contribute to reaching your primary career goals, or in other words, it’s the path that will take you to your dream job, whether it be in your current work situation, or in another company.

While some people follow a straight path, in one industry, others may change careers, positions, or industries to fulfill personal or professional goals. It’s important to know that everyone’s career path is different, and although it may be similar to your friend or colleague’s path, it will never be identical.  A career path can also allude to your growth in a company or industry. We will now discuss two types of growth: vertical and horizontal.

  • Vertical: Being promoted in the same company or in another.
  • Horizontal: Adding new knowledge, abilities, or responsibilities to our current position in a company, or when changing to another.

Both types of growth are great, because they will help you grow as a professional, and therefore, be more competitive. You may ask: which one is better? Truth is there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s all going to depend on YOUR personal goals and values. Here is one example:

Industry: Pharmaceutical; Position: Engineer

Example of a vertical path: You start off as a Junior Engineer, then Senior Engineer, after that you become Project Manager, and then Engineering Consultant.

Example of a horizontal path: You’re a Senior Engineer, and you decide to attend validation seminars to further your knowledge in the field, as well as taking Six Sigma certifications, and training validation professionals.

As we mentioned before, everything will depend on what your career goals are, and it’s a matter of being open to adjusting during the process. Some people are very clear on what they want in terms of their career path, but others figure it our along the way. Both situations are OKAY. Here are some recommendations to take into consideration:

  • Have an open mind and be flexible.

It’s all about modifying your plan during the process, and not holding on to what you want (or THINK you may want) right now. Things change and you could feel differently in the future. allow yourself to think and move freely, to be open to change and possibilities.

  • Don’t be afraid to make moves and strategize.

Success is for the brave, isn’t that right? Well, it is in this case. This doesn’t mean that you should always take risks, but instead that you should evaluate every possible opportunity that is presented to you and know when to make a move. Sometimes it may be necessary to accept a position that pays less, because it eventually will get you to where you want to be. Or for example, you may change industries and will have to work your way up from the bottom again.

  • Keep learning always.

You must be prepared to develop additional skills, depending on the industry you are in, or moving towards. Pay attention to the requirements that are repeated in different job descriptions posted online (those that are for opportunities in the field you like).

Are you now ready to begin, continue, or reroute your career path? We’re sure of it! Remember that it doesn’t matter where you are now, but where you are going. Celebrate the great professional you’re becoming!