Do You Have a Career? Do You Want One?

What does it mean to “have a career?”

Definition: A person’s consecutive, often progressive achievement or experience in professional or business life that expresses commitment to a career cluster or pathway. It includes education, training, past jobs, community involvement, and hobbies that demonstrate self-development. Activities do not need to be income-earning to be considered significant or valuable for gaining skills or experience. 

People with a career — and not just a job — know the value they bring to the workplace. They are probably working in a job that they like, or are doing something that is important to them.

People with careers have plans for their future. They have professional, financial and personal goals. 

Your Career  ≠ Your Job Title

Managing your career means you are have created goals for your work and personal life. It also means you are working towards your goals.

What is Your Career?
Even if you’ve worked at the same company or in the same department for many years, you probably have added to your career.

Think about the projects you’ve worked on, the things you know how to do, trainings you’ve participated in, and skills you’ve gained. All of these are part of your career, especially if they match your interests and are of value to you outside of work. 

For example, let’s pretend you are responsible for customer service calls at an auto parts manufacturer. This activity helps you with problem solving, dealing with difficult people and learning new information. All of these skills can help you to build your career as a party planner. You are building your business and gaining skills by hosting parties and plan events on the weekend and your days off from the manufacturer. When someone asks “What do you do?” You say your career is a party planner or event coordinator. 

Think About Your Career
Take a few minutes to write down all of your skills and experiences related to the career you want. Think about your employability skills and the transferable skills you gained at unrelated jobs and in school.

Also think about:

  • Your education
  • On-the-job training
  • Self-taught skills
  • Past jobs (in related area)
  • Community involvement, volunteering
  • Self-development (books read, conferences and events attended, online classes)

When you are ready to create a resume, you will need all of this information to show employers and your Professional Community your Career Identity.