By Allison McWilliams (’95), Assistant Vice President for Mentoring and Alumni Personal & Career Development, Wake Forest University
Owning what’s next means recognizing that your career path, and your life path, are completely up to you. It means taking all that you have learned about yourself up to this point – your strengths, your interests, your skills, your growth opportunities – and using those to create a plan for yourself moving forward, so that you can move more intentionally into the next phase, whether that’s moving into management, seeking out a career or job change, moving locations, or even re-entering the workforce after stepping away for a period of time. It means continuing to build a network filled with strong and weak ties who can help you to reflect on your choices and connect you to opportunities. And, it means doing your homework on potential next steps and getting honest about your preparedness to fill them.
The good news is, while this work is completely up to you, you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, in addition to all of the great people in your network who can and should help you, there are some terrific resources for you to check out and use to build your skills and knowledge-base. I’ve identified just a few of our favorites, below.
Five For Your First Five: Own Your Career and Life After College. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t start with my own book, which was written to help young professionals navigate that transition from college to work and life after college. It’s written as a workbook of sorts, to help you to intentionally reflect on your goals and values, how you are spending your most important resources, and to create a plan for what comes next, for you. Whether you are in year five or year twenty-five, I think you will find something of value in here that you can apply to your life.
Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. In this book, authors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans take the class that they created at Stanford, which applies design thinking principles to help individuals figure out what kind of life they want to live and how to create it, and put it in book form. Like Five For Your First Five, this book has a workbook feel to it as the authors take the reader through a series of exercises just as they would do in their classes. It’s both friendly and useful, and will give you new perspective on the things that really matter, to you. You will finish the book with a fully-fledged life design which you can put into practice.
The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You. This brand new book by Julie Zhuo is one of my new favorites, and one we will be using with our 2019-2020 Next Level Mentoring Groups this coming year. For anyone who finds themselves looking for or taking on a management role for the first time, this is a gem of a resource to guide you through some of the opportunities and roadblocks you may (and likely will) encounter as you work to skill up in your management abilities. Let Julie be your management mentor and coach as you navigate these uncertain and challenging waters.
Looking to re-enter the workforce? Check out reacHire and iRelaunch, both of which are focused on connecting women who have stopped out of the workforce with professional opportunities. Whether you are re-entering the workforce after a time away or considering a career change, you need to be able to tell your story, build and foster connections, and convince both employers and yourself that you have the skills and abilities to do the job. These two organizations are here to help you do just all of that and more.
Regardless of where you are at in your career or life, our Alumni Personal & Career Development Center team wants to support you as you figure out what comes next (and how to own it!). Connecting with us is easy. You can ask us a quick career question or request a career coaching appointment or reach out to us via Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.