The LEARN Wake Forest Alumni Career Development Model™ is your self-directed, personal learning framework to develop professionally and take the next step in your career. No matter where you are – new employee, mid-level manager, seasoned professional, or somewhere in between – the LEARN Model is adaptable to you.
Years of research and professional career development experience has guided the development of this Model and its five steps: Learn, Evaluate, Act, Reflect, Navigate. We always like (and recommend) to begin at the beginning with Learn. But the good news is that you can start exactly where you are. LEARN is a cyclical Model that will repeat itself over the course of your career. Read an overview of each of the five steps in the LEARN Model below.
Identify where you currently are in the Model and begin there by clicking into that particular LEARN step to get started.
No matter where you are in your career journey – new employee or seasoned professional, first days and weeks of a new role or several years in – you should always start from a place of learning. Every role and experience is an opportunity to learn about your strengths, interests, and what you do and don’t like about work so that you can use that information to make more informed decisions moving forward. And, it’s an opportunity to practice intentional learning about your role, your organization, and your industry and how these align with your strengths and interests. Start exploring Step 1: Learn Self, Role, Organization.
Once you have gained an understanding of yourself, your organization and your role within the organization, it’s time to shift a critical lens to your development up to this point and construct a vision for the next phase in your career development. Identify your relevant knowledge, skills, and abilities according to your career stage, industry, organization, and role. Assess how these proficiencies contribute to your growth and to your work in your organization. Identify gaps in your skills, knowledge, and abilities that you will need for continued success where you are or to move forward. As needed, conduct curiosity conversations with people who have expertise in the skillset or knowledge area that you want to develop. This will help you envision a clear picture of how to transition into the action phase. Start exploring Step 2: Evaluate Skills and Gaps.
Welcome to the Action step. This might be where you spend the majority of your time, since in many ways you are constantly taking action towards what’s next; however, it’s important to be intentional about how and in which direction you put your time and energy. Take the insights you gained in the Learn and Evaluation steps and create SMART goals for the specific skills, knowledge, and abilities you need to develop as well as specific action steps you need to take to achieve those goals. Use this information to map out a realistic, achievable timeline, share it with a trusted mentor or wise counselor, then get to work taking steps towards achieving your goals. Start exploring Step 3: Act to Intentionally Grow and Develop.
Reflection – on your own and with others – is an essential step in pursuing your career development goals. Here, you need to carefully consider how or if your goals were achieved. Evaluate the impact of those action steps on your career development. Consider if you should continue in the direction you have mapped out or re-strategize. Identify and reach out to people who can help you make connections between what you are learning and your next steps. And remember, reflection is an ongoing, intentional process throughout your career journey. It doesn’t end once you achieve your goals or take the next step. Start exploring Step 4: Reflect on Learning.
This final step of the LEARN Model is not the end of your journey, but rather another starting point as you launch yourself into your next career stage. Take all that you have learned and accomplished up to this point and reflect on your position in your organization. Ask yourself if the role you are in now is in alignment with your goals. Think about what growth looks like for you and how you see yourself advancing to the next stage. You might need to return to one of the previous stages of the LEARN Model, to gather more information or take further action. You might need to reach out for a coaching conversation or speak to a trusted mentor or sponsor. Start exploring Step 5: Navigate What’s Next.