Many recent graduates with exceptional grades may still struggle to obtain entry level jobs because of lack of portfolios full of the right skill sets and lack marketable abilities.
Recently, I started my mentorship program and 90% of the participants have clear concerns about how to map out a successful career from their degrees. In other cases, they have questions on how to get successful careers out of their current jobs as they don’t feel fulfilled or don’t think they are making a good living.
During my visit to Toronto in August, I sat with an old friend from my University of Saskatchewan days who literally bursted into tears while explaining her fears of her degrees not being enough and her confusion on what career paths her 3 degrees will be useful for (yes, she has a Ph.D. and 3 years of Postdoc experience).
This brings me to the question: Is a university degree equal to a good career? The answer is No, it’s not. So, the background here is that not only rookies are confused about this topic and in this write up, I am explaining how to map out an excellent career.
The first 2 things to do will be to define your Career Summary and Goals and name your top 5 skills, abilities and marketable qualities. Do you find yourself rambling?
Mapping out career paths from a degree is a daunting task in all honesty and if you are like my mentees or my friend mentioned above, here are tips to help you as you try to open the Pandora’s box to find a gemstone called a successful career.
- Establish Your MAJOR or Specialization
In Finland, students get to select majors to ensure their degrees are tailored and they take courses that will equip them with skill sets for a particular career. Why do I need a major? You need one because one degree may lead to several career paths and without defining your major and tailoring your own course selections, you will learn small pieces of everything. These small pieces don’t make you attractive to employers as you are not deep in any of the career options. For example, a degree in computer science may lead to career paths in data science, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, internet of things, embedded systems, software development and so on. It is important to learn the basics of all but you need to have a specialized area where you are a master of the process. As such, it is imperative to start asking questions about various career paths that your degree leads to and take a stand on establishing a major earlier in your university program. If your school didn’t or doesn’t offer the MAJOR option, please do yourself a favor and engage a career counsellor or a mentor. Do you need a mentor to help you? Please ask how to enroll for my paid mentorship program.
- Gather Requirements, Skills, Abilities, Certifications and Marketable Qualities for the selected major and go get them
The easiest way to do this is to search for job postings featuring your major and minor. Then, critically analyze the requirements and start a portfolio. In your portfolio list the needed skills in order of importance and place in front of each skill set how you plan to achieve it (courses from your university, online program, certification or coaching). When you are done writing, schedule and get to work. Don’t only take these courses but become proficient in those required skill sets. For example, a mechanical engineer with a major in design will need to be proficient in Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA).
Even if you have a job, please don’t stop obtaining these marketable skills. For every new skill you want to learn, ask yourself how does this fit into my career portfolio? How does this help me with my job search or to ask for a promotion? Or help me better negotiate my pay?
- Aside the MAJOR, you also need a complementary MINOR
A minor is another area of specialty that you may invest in to help you diversify your portfolio. My suggestion is a complementary minor that will help you stand out as an exceptional candidate. For example, an accounting major with a data analysis minor will position you as a better candidate in the era of digitization than someone with just an accounting major.
- Added Advantage skill sets
These are skill sets on job postings referred to as “may be an added advantage”. You need those skills because you need the advantage over others. Obtaining these skills will make you top candidates for jobs, enable you bargain for more pay, and ask for a raise (if you already have the job).
Now that you made it to this point, I encourage you to get to work and leave a comment below saying I am on it.
Please share with others who need to see this.