Before the days of GPS systems in motor vehicles, getting lost while trying to find your destination was fairly common. Luckily we now have modern technology to keep us on the right track.
Navigating your career without a solid plan of action is a bit like driving around without that map on the dash and soothing voice telling you to take the next right in 1.2 miles. In the following interview, AARC member Sherry Whiteman, MS, RRT, a respiratory care educator at the Franklin Technology Center/Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, offers some great advice new grads can use to put together a plan that will get them where they want to go.
Why is it important for new grads to develop a respiratory care career plan?
Opportunities for the ideal job don’t come along every day, so when they do you must be ready. Career planning will help prepare you to seize those ideal opportunities when they arise.
When is the best time to put this plan together and who can grads get to help them with it?
Create a plan once you know exactly what you want to achieve in the long-term. Reach out to a supervisor or mentor to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and to determine which goals fit you, your position, and your organization.
What kinds of things should grads consider including on this career plan and why?
Career planning should include short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals, action steps for obtaining each, and a target timeline for completion. Activities may include earning specialty credentials, achieving leadership roles within an organization, participating in training activities, or developing a strong professional network. A clearly outlined strategy will keep you moving forward and provide tangible evidence of progress toward the end goal.
Once the plan is in place, what can new grads do to stay on track to meet their goals?
Review your career development plan often to monitor progress toward your goals. Keeping track of past successes will help you maintain motivation. It may also be helpful to share your plan with a mentor or close friend who will keep you accountable and cheer you on toward success.
You know what they say about the “best laid plans …” What do new grads need to know about making changes to their plan as their careers develop over time?
Change is inevitable — likes/dislikes, career trends, opportunities — so flexibility is key. Review your respiratory care career plan annually and make adjustments to your goals as necessary. Don’t be afraid to change your long-term goal — our preferences change with time and experience. Be open to new opportunities that, while not directly furthering your career, may teach you transferable skills for the future.