Finding Your Dream Career

Near the end of September when summer has officially ended and we enter the season of autumn, I often get inquiries from students about job searches, applications for graduate schools, or in some cases, what do I do with my degree now?

Outside the walls of academia, students need to face whether what they learned can actually get them a job that pays the bill or a dream career that carries them through the days when the going get tough.  Is it possible to get a job that is your dream career that pays well and moves you forward to your personal purpose?  Yes. head-1556567_1920

In one of my courses, I teach the subject in ‘strategic planning and management’. A very useful technique called SWOT, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, which allows assessment, inquiry, and reflection on a problem at hand, the issues to explore, or even a job search.  Here is a SWOT analysis to assess “job searches” effectively:

  1. Identify Your own Strengths. What did you do well in-class and outside of class (extracurricular activities)? When someone had a problem and asked you for help, what were those things? List these items. With  this list of strengths (your mojo), you feel confident during your job search and job interviews.
  2. Be Aware of Your Weaknesses. Even though we live in the world where folks don’t like to hear negative criticism from others, it is important that you are at least aware and can acknowledge your own weaknesses before others (i.e. your future boss) tells you. By having a mental inventory of your weaknesses, you know how you to improve these skills (i.e. take an online course, read books/articles …) or ask for help. Find a mentor who has these strengths.
  3. Find Opportunities.  With your graduate degree, what are new opportunities that you makes you more remarkable than before? For example, did you take a biostatistics class, and realized that you are good at statistical programming and your classmates often ask you for help. During your job interview, you can emphasize how you communicate and share knowledge with others. This illustrates that you are a team player.  Look for opportunities to showcase skills, practice, and sharpen your skills.
  4. Look out for Threats. We all have a tendency to derail our path to success. As you list your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, your internal dialogue may attack your positive thoughts.  What are the competing voices in your head? Are they real? Are they giving your reasonable feedback?

One position with many applicants. You can maximize your chances for a success job search by completing your own Self-SWOT analysis.

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