Goodbye, summer. Hello, reality.

The final days of summer are upon us. Yes, it’s true. I know it’s hard to accept. This time of year always makes me feel a mixture of emotions, as it probably does for many of us. I always feel kind of wistful and nostalgic, reminiscing about days gone by, when summer meant a relaxation of parents’ rules and an extension of our yard to include any and all open space in the entire neighborhood. And now all of the privileges of summer are rudely being yanked away from us just as quickly as they arrived.

But with Fall comes a new set of rules, some of which are surprisingly refreshing after a few months of unstructured and carefree vacation time. First off, kids are returning to the routine of school, homework, and after-school activities. The days are becoming shorter, and with that, nights are getting cooler, and bedtimes are coming sooner. Mornings are crisp and busy with our roadways brimming again with people heading back to school and work after enjoying their summer holidays.

I thought this article from the Wall Street Journal, aptly titled Dear Class of 2016: Get Moving on Your Future, would help motivate all of us to get back on schedule. The article is directed at current college and university students but can broadly be applicable to any of us who are looking to prepare for and break into a new career. I thought the points were well made but could be condensed into a checklist of sorts. Feel free to use this checklist as a starting point for your own personalized career development checklist.

  1. Sign up for a public speaking or writing course. These skills are needed for virtually every job, even if it does not seem obvious to you.
  2. Learn a new language. Multilingual employees are in high demand, especially those who have mastered Arabic or Mandarin.
  3. Reconnect with people in your network. This could mean professors, alumni, or professionals in your field.
  4. Visit a career development professional. Career services staff and career development practitioners can give you helpful career interest and personality assessments, and can help you understand how your interests can be fulfilled through your career.

    your career development checklist

  5. Find a part-time job or volunteer position in your desired field. Start getting experience now. It will give you a head start on acquiring critical skills that will be needed in your future job.
  6. Take an accounting or finance course. Enhance your practical money management skills both for personal reasons and to get you ahead on business matters.
  7. Join a club, team, professional, or community organization. You can learn new skills, meet others who share your interests, and build your network.
  8. Get an internship or an “externship.” An internship is self-explanatory. An externship is a program offered by some colleges where students have the opportunity to job shadow alumni for a day.
  9. Take extra courses and continue your education. Even if you have completed the formal requirements for your degree, there are always opportunities for lifelong learning and career development. Do some research and find courses to help you upgrade your skills.
  10. Research trends in your field. Understand what the job market looks like, visit job boards, and investigate job leads.
  11. Land that job! You’ve done the legwork, declared a major, and effectively made a decision about your future. Take all of the information you’ve learned and all of your youthful energy and funnel it into finding that job opportunity that will set you on your desired career path.
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