From education to employment

Building a Successful Career

Whether you’ve just entered the job market or you’ve decided to make a career change, it’s vital to concentrate your efforts so you’re always working toward achieving your goals. Making a series of positive changes in your life can not only lead you down the path to obtain the profession you covet, but also help you achieve financial security and personal satisfaction.

Develop a Plan

Determine what is most important to you, whether it’s professional, financial or personal satisfaction, then help yourself achieve success by devising a strategy to reach your goals. Create larger steps to focus, then break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks. In addition to career-related benchmarks, also consider adding personal milestones to your plan to ensure you stay happy and healthy. Add resolutions to exercise a set amount each week, practice relaxation techniques if you feel stressed and spend a certain amount of time with family and friends, for example.

Obtain an Education

If your professional goals require you to obtain a degree or accreditation that you don’t have, obtain it in a way that suits your current lifestyle. For example, if you’re hoping to enter a business-related field and can go to school full time, research colleges that are touted for their management programs. If you hope to enter the technical field yet have to continue working your current job for financial reasons, consider computer science or systems engineering masters online programs that will enable you to attend classes on a more flexible schedule. Education doesn’t always require sitting in a classroom or taking exams to receive a diploma—you can also consider vocational colleges or trade schools to get the certification you need. For some occupations, time spent as an apprentice in the field is more valuable than class time because of the hands-on experience you’ll receive.

Create a Resume

Once you’re ready to enter the job market in your desired field, put your best foot forward with an application that allows your skills and experience to stand out. Consider different types of resumes and use the format that pertains to your potential career the best. While many employers may prefer a straightforward, chronological document that lists your objective, previous jobs, accomplishments, education and references, others may expect an altered approach. Some fields may appreciate one that puts the focus on your former positions and responsibilities, while creative companies might like a version with a unique design and graphics.


Reach professionals who can help you achieve your goals by networking whenever the opportunity arises. Consider talking to relatives, friends or former acquaintances from college who work in your desired field to see if they have any helpful contacts. Attend events through your school’s alumni association that will allow you to meet potential employers. Each of these avenues will start you off with a connection so you won’t feel like you’re making a cold call about a job opening. Once you have the chance, ensure you know how to sell yourself when you apply for jobs, discussing your experience, education and skills to make the most of every opportunity.

Leave Your Comfort Zone

Although you may have created a vision for your professional or personal future, leave yourself open to experiences that you may not have expected. If you run into someone in your support system who knows about an opportunity they believe would be perfect for you, consider following up despite the fact that it doesn’t seem to align with your education or experience. You never know what may end up being the job that helps you achieve the success you’ve long desired.

Whether you define success as professional growth, financial gain, personal fulfillment or all of the above, you’ll have the best chance at achieving it if you take a proactive approach. Formulating a concrete plan for your future can help you focus on your goals, helping you learn new skills and make new contacts that can help make your vision come true.

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