At a young age, expectations arise for us to select a career path that will presumably carry us through the remainder of our lives. Most people lack the necessary experience and understanding when making such a life-changing decision. A poorly planned future can lead to undesirably professional roadblocks later down the line. Ultimately, these decisions can cause us to build our careers upon weak foundations. Here are five weak foundations upon which people commonly develop their careers.
1- Incorrect educational path
One of the most critical steps in your career is the very first one: your education. When selecting a major, specialty, or a particular school, you set your future in motion. Many students who end up delaying graduation or going back to graduate school to obtain additional credentials do so because their undergraduate major or specialty was not aligned with their future career goals.
2- Following the path of least resistance
For those who struggle with knowing what career path interests them, influence from parents or other authority figures can lead people to select a career that doesn’t particularly engage or excite them. Those who go down this path can find themselves several years into their professional lives, unnecessarily unhappy with their job and seeking other opportunities.
3- Not seeking out industry mentors
People want to help other people! There are always people within your field who would be happy to answer questions and support you in your career. A huge mistake people make is when they fail to find people who will serve a resource. Find a mentor (or two) and ask as many questions as you can.
4- Misaligned priorities
Early in a career, it is easy to focus on status or compensation, rather than the actual work that you will be completing. Make sure to ask yourself what about a job attracts you: is it the money, the title, or is it something else? If you choose a job you hate just because of an attractive salary, you may find yourself moving on to another job or career later, only to have wasted time you could have spent learning to do something you love.
A carefully crafted plan can help you avoid these common mistakes and lead you to build your career on a solid foundation, one that will help you achieve your professional goals.