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When the pressure is on to get to work as soon as you have your degree, it can be difficult to stay focused on long-term goals. With today’s bills to pay, tomorrow’s plans can take a back-seat. The tough job market doesn’t help – even though having a degree improves your chances of entering your chosen field.
The same is true for non-traditional students who go back to education after years in the workplace. If you went to college to change career paths or find greater professional satisfaction, don’t throw away the opportunities you’ve earned for yourself. With a degree under your belt, you’ve acquired the necessary qualifications. Now it’s time to take the next step in achieving your goals by finding a home for your talent. The following tips should give you a start.
1. Understand talent
When we think of talent, we often think of famous actors or sports stars. But for most of us, talent is less obvious. In addition to the knowledge and qualifications gained at college, we also have skills, interests and values. So when it comes to achieving your goals, it’s worth remembering that talent isn’t about being the best in the world at something. Instead, it is that personal combination of strengths, weaknesses, and potential. People with successful and happy careers usually work in organizations that accommodate, nurture, and value those talents.
2. Recognize yourself
Talent is not just what you are good at, it’s also where you will likely thrive. For some people it is clear-cut. For others, it takes a little more work. Self-assessment and honesty are essential. No two people are the same and what suits someone else isn’t necessarily right for you. For example, are you energized by others, or do you need quiet space to do your best work? Do you prefer the fluid exchange of creative ideas, or a more structured work environment? Or maybe actually find it stimulating to work with creative types, but need more a more process-driven role in which to do your best work? The more you understand, the greater your chances of finding a role where you can develop.
3. Hunt for clues
There are no real short-cuts to finding out what your talents are, but there is plenty of evidence. What motivated and stimulated you most during your study program? If you preferred exams to project work, what does that tell you? Look to your personal life. Do you prefer team sports or solo endeavors? Do you want to win, or is taking part more important? Ask honest friends, relatives, or colleagues. They may point out characteristics you take for granted. Your college may also have career-testing programs available that assess your natural talents. All of these clues tell you something about who you are, what you need from work, and what you can offer.
4. Match your values
When you have an idea of what motivates you, find out what motivates a potential employer. Do your values really match up? Look beyond the company Web site and corporate Twitter account. If you can, talk to people who work there. Use your existing professional networks – you may be surprised about the extent of your connections. Do your professors have industry connections or alumni you could talk to? If you can, go the extra mile and speak with customers and partners to get a more accurate picture of the company ethos. If you can find an organization that offers a work environment and corporate culture you personally find productive, you are more likely to succeed.
5. Observe and question
Remember, an interview should be a two-way process you can use to get more information about an organization. Are people welcoming and considerate to you? Are they professional with colleagues? What do the dress code, office layout or even noise levels tell you? In the interview itself, find out how you would contribute to the mission and vision of the organization. What exactly would you be expected to do every day? Does it match the job description, and is it what you want to do? Ask for examples of how values are put into daily practice. If possible, ask to meet the last hire before you. This kind of information will help you position yourself for success and start progressing towards you goals from your first day on the job.
6. Be realistic
No job is perfect, and no job will give you everything you want. Education opens doors and gives you more choices than before. But there will be compromises, too. If your dream is to be a TV anchor, you should still be prepared to do your time as a studio runner, for example. Accept that there will be sacrifices to be made, but keep your personal big picture in mind so those sacrifices don’t ultimately destroy your sense of satisfaction. Above all, remember that achieving your goals is a journey and that education is just the start. Going back to college was the first step to greater career satisfaction. Finding a home for your talent is the next.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. It was submitted and approved by our editorial staff to ensure it meets CAREEREALISM Media’s editorial standards. You can learn more about our writing requirements here and view our full disclosure policy here.
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