When you’re studying at university, you may spend a lot of time thinking about what you’re going to do after graduation.

You may have plans of owning your own business, becoming the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or living out your creative passions every day.

Whatever your plan is, knowing how to get to that position can sometimes be harder than it initially seems.

Choosing the right programs, modules, extracurricular activities, and getting the right work experience can all play an important role in setting yourself up for the career of your dreams. This is why it’s so important to start thinking about your career strategy as soon as possible.

In this article, we’ll take you through the process of outlining your goals and how to take the right steps to help you achieve them

Here’s how you can build a strategy to support your career goals.

1. Envision your end goal

The most important part of coming up with a successful strategy is thinking about your end goal. While people may have different end goals, it’s useful for everyone to think about where you’ll ideally be in two, five, ten, or even 20 years’ time.

Your end goal can be broad and ambitious, but try to think about something that you can really work towards.

Some career goals that you may want to think about setting could include:

  • Reaching a leadership position in your business
  • Winning a prestigious award for work in your industry
  • Becoming an expert in your field
  • Starting your own business
  • Building a personal brand that others are inspired by
  • Managing a team of people

These goals are the ‘finished product’. You won’t necessarily be able to achieve them the minute that you graduate from university, but they provide direction and motivation as you start your career.

2. Break it down into steps

It can often be hard to look at a future achievement that seems completely out of reach. It can take years to be promoted to a management position, or to be given the responsibility of managing a whole team of people. As such, you shouldn’t expect to reach your end goal straight away.

This is why it’s important to break your goal down into manageable steps that will get you closer to the finish line.

Think about the steps that you need to take if you want to reach your end goal. For example, if you want to become a senior manager, here are some of the steps that you might need to follow:

  • Choose a degree and modules that are suited to the industry you want to work in to develop knowledge in your field
  • Join the management committee of society at your university to give you some management experience
  • Look out for voluntary work or other activities where you’re able to gain responsibility or leadership experience
  • Look for graduate roles in a company that you’d like to work for
  • Start off in an administrative role and work towards a promotion to senior assistant
  • Work towards a promotion to team leader

Once you start to break your goals into smaller, more manageable steps, you’ll be able to visualize a clear path towards what you want to achieve.

These smaller objectives will be much easier for you to achieve, and it will give you a lot of motivation when you’re able to tick everything off your list one by one.

You can apply the same thought process to any goal that you wish to achieve – simply think of the different ways in which you can access the results you want from your current position and work from there.

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3. Identify the skills you have and the skills you need

You may find that you lack some of the skills that you need to achieve your long-term goals.

Don’t be disheartened by this, as it’s almost impossible to have all the skills you need early on in your career, it can take years of hard work to develop and master these skills.

Think about some of the skills you need for your dream role or goal, and compare these to the skills you have now. You may find that you already have some of the skills you need, but the exercise is a good way to identify the skills that you need to work on.

Some of the skills that you may need – particularly for leadership positions – include:

  • Strategic thinking
  • Project planning
  • Communication skills
  • Flexibility
  • Creativity
  • People management
  • Empathy
  • The ability to inspire others

If there’s a particular job that you want, see if you find similar roles on job sites and identify some of the skills that employers are currently searching for. This could act as a good base for the list of skills that you need to work on.

There are plenty of ways in which you can develop these skills too, even before you graduate. Participation in group projects, extracurricular activities and voluntary work are all great examples of how you can boost your skills before you leave university.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Remember that guidance and career counsellors at your university are there to help you. They can accompany you on your career journey, and assist you in developing a solid career plan.

Arrange a meeting with one of your career counsellors as the first step towards your dream goals. 

Career advisors may suggest that you create SMART goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound 

Following this framework is one of the most effective ways of achieving your personal targets.

Reaching your goals starts with choosing the right university program for you. At EU Business School, we offer a range of courses that can help you turn your plans into reality.

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