DePaul University Career Center's Blog

New Year, New Goals: Three Tips to Setting Career Goals

Ellie Santonato

Congratulations! You have been doing some career exploration and have surveyed your personal Values, Interests & Personality, and Skills (aka VIPS) into a career community. You now know what industries you want to work in and the basic understanding of the types of roles and opportunities you can have within your industry of interest.

With the information you have, take the knowledge and start planning your career goals!

What are Career Goals?

Similar to how you think and may even write our new year goals and aspirations the same can be done for your career. Your career goals are where you see yourself going with your VIPS into your future life of work. Your career goals can be set for a short timeframe, for example 6-months to a year from now to long-term goals which could take 5 to 10 years to complete. 

Career goals can be small. If you are a Sophomore preparing for your Junior Year your career goal could be as simple as applying for four internships and completing one of them. If you are a recent graduate or an early career professional your career goals can be a bit more long-term such as getting a raise or bonus by the end of your first year. Or even larger like getting a promotion after two-years on the job. 

Remember life happens. As you establish work-life balance, trust that your career goals will ebb and flow. You and your career goals will meander as life changes over time. Goals should never be static and you should adjust them to your current needs. 

How to Set Career Goals:

  1. Brainstorm your Career Options 

You have already begun this process a little bit. You may know a few careers that interest you, but you definitely know what industry you want to work in. Use online assessment tools such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook or O*Net Online for career profiles and data in a variety of fields. 

  • Try to identify 5 to 10 careers about which you are adequately interested in to spend some time conducting further research (talking to career advisor, researching blog posts, or conducting informal interviews). 
  1. Talk to Industry Experts 

Now that you have established some potential careers, talk to someone about it. The person or people you talk to should be considered industry experts. Below I outline two types of people you can talk to: 

Your Career Advisor: Come talk to us at the Career Center. We are here to help you establish your career expectations and short-term goals (getting that internship or job). If you want to learn more about the steps to becoming a professional you want to be, we are here to help you. Once you get that job you can continue to use our services to help you establish your long term career goals. 

Industry Professionals: Use your school’s Alumni Network (LinkedIn, ASK, Peers, Professors) to speak with those currently in the jobs you want. They will know what the day to day work expectations are. They may be open and have conversations about pay transparency. They can and will share what the application and interview process was like. Overall, they can tell you what to do and not do to be like them. 

  1. Write your Goals Down 

There is a power to writing your goals down. According to a 2018 Forbes article, two things happen. First, you are taking up external space. Yes, a piece of paper or word document is small, but the act of writing our goals takes the ideas from an inner space and puts them out into the world. The second advantage of writing our goals out is that our ideas become actionable. By writing out goals we are able to visualize and take actions towards completing the work we want to do. Finally, writing our goals down gives us a place to go back to. We are able to check on our goals, manage our expectations, and see the progress we have made. 

The SMART Method

Have I convinced you to write down your career goals? The best way to write your career goals is to follow the SMART method. The SMART GOAL method means you write out your career goals into specific categories: S – Specific, M – Measurable, A – Achievable, R – Relevant, T – Time-Bound. 

S – Specific What will be accomplished? What actions will you take? Think about: Who What WhenWhereWhich Why 
M – MeasurableWhat data will measure the goal? (How much? How well?)What are the quantitative measures? What are the qualitative measures? How much do you want to increase or decrease… Are there dates you want to complete tasks by
A – Achievable Is the goal doable? Do you have the necessary skills and resources? 
More questions to consider: how to accomplish the goal,  if you have the tools/skills needed,  If not, consider what it would take to attain them. 
R – Relevant How does the goal align with broader goals? Why is the result important?
More questions to consider: How does your SMART goal relate to our strategic plan? Does your SMART goal relate to any potential future SMART goals? How does your SMART goal relate to the DePaul mission? 
T – Time-Bound What is the time frame for accomplishing the goal?
Create a chart like the one above and go write out your 2023 career goals!

Not sure what the future holds? Need support along the way? That’s exactly where we come in. Whether you’re a freshman or an alumnus, it’s never too early (or too late) to utilize our services.

Book an appointment with Ellie, or another member of the advising community through Handshake, or by calling the front desk at (773) 325-7431. 

%d bloggers like this: