Innocent Mukasa is a graduate of psychiatric nursing from Butabika School of Psychiatric Nursing. Though he had always seen himself pursuing a career in psychiatry after school, that has since changed.
“I do not think that is a field I would want to work in in the future. The truth is, I do not know what I want to do, though I can take a psychiatric job if I got one,” he confesses.
Like many graduates, Mukasa is waiting for that job, not because it will further his career goals, plans and aspirations, but because getting a job is what he is expected to do as a new graduate.
To many students, the plan is to finish school and get a job. There is no consideration to career planning, and as the cliché goes: failure to plan is planning to fail.
Think beyond ‘now’
In her article on career planning in The Guardian, Penny de Valk, chief executive of Cedar (UK), a leadership and management consultancy, writes: Career planning means thinking big while also being prepared for slow-burn development and responding to opportunities that come up. Luck favours the well prepared. The more you know what you are good at, what kind of work you want to be doing and how you will make a difference, the clearer the opportunities will become.
Noeline Muhumuza, a freelance career guidance counsellor shares that having a career plan helps one to have a clear mind on where they want to go, the requirements for getting there and the means to get there.
“Breaking down career planning into these categories can help you stay focused on the career road. Though requirements and means may change with time, the goal ought to remain clear. That is what keeps you going. Nevertheless, some people, besides the time and requirements, also find reason to shift the goal.”
Have a professional goal
A career goal does not necessarily have to be in your professional field. Muhumuza says, “It is more about what you are passionate about. It is bigger than your current highly paying job; it is what you want to be and the impact you want to make in the world.”
David Mulindwa, the head of career development at Right Care Schools, Entebbe Campus, notes that, unfortunately, many people think about career goals when writing a curriculum vitae (CV) or when pushed in a tight corner during a job interview.
“However, this is something one needs to be clear about even before they join university so that their education is relevant to their career goals.”
Requirements and means.
Additionally, Muhumuza shares that requirements refer to the skills, talents, experiences, knowledge and knowhow that one needs to achieve their goals.
“This therefore, means that one seizes opportunities and chances to acquire skills and applies these skills to gain the experiences that will help push them forward,” she says, adding that this does not come easy because one needs, resilience, perseverance and a degree of aggressiveness to get what they want.
Means, on the other hand, are the ways, bridges, paths that one forges to achieve a career goal. This might mean working a job that may not be the best to get the skills and expertise you need. It could mean waiting patiently to climb through the career ladder to gain the needed experience.”
Samuel A. Bakutana, a leadership consultant and chief executive officer of Inspired Leaders International, says, the bigger picture is always the real picture and should always be a major point of focus.
“Career planning or having career goals changes one’s focus from earning daily bread to the long term bigger picture of their contribution on earth. Since goals are basically dreams with deadlines, one needs to first have career dreams for the future and then break them into goals.”
Bakutana adds that when someone has career goals, they give the person a reason to work harder. Career goals also enable an employee to know the appropriate workplace and decide who should be in their professional circle of friends. Pursuing a clear future gives one energy for living.