Career Discovery
June 20, 2023

From Starter Job to Dream Career: Tips for Planning and Progressing in Your Professional Path

Move from starter job to dream career. It’s not enough to think about the career that you envision, you need to have a plan to get there.

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Remember being a child and thinking about what dream career you would have as an adult? Some of the careers that you may have thought about perhaps ranged from being a teacher, firefighter, dance choreographer to an astronaut, business owner or even a fashion designer. Those are all great professions, each one requiring some planning and execution. It’s not enough to think about the career that you envision, ultimately you need to have a plan to get there. What’s more, thinking in reverse or using a process coined career reverse engineering can help you plan out the steps starting from where you want to land or your career end goal to where you are right now, in the planning stages of that very career.  Many successful innovators, athletes, socialites, politicians, and authors have used reverse engineering over and over to achieve career success. In the Harvard Business Review article, You can Learn Anything through Reverse Engineering Ron Friedman mentions, “Reverse engineering can facilitate skill acquisition in any field and is especially useful for knowledge workers whose success depends on their ability to learn quickly and adapt to rapidly evolving fields.” (HBR, 2023).

Step-by-Step to Reverse Engineer Your Chosen Career

There are several steps you should take to reverse engineer your chosen career path. Getting clear on what you need to do early on will not only help you save time but will also help you to remain focused on your end career goal.

Step 1.  

Learn about what you enjoy doing and then make a list of all the things you are naturally good at. This may take some time in the beginning; however, it is worth the effort up front. To help you figure out your workstyle and other career insights, take our free career quiz available when you set up a free career explorer profile that is designed to help you find career training in your area, careers opportunities and education information. You can come back again and again to your profile should your career interests and needs change over time.

Step 2.

Learn about the career that you want. Invest the time to do a deeper dive into the career that you are interested in pursuing. What type of training or education will you need? What type of working environment would you expect to have? What types of tasks should you know how to perform? During this step it may also be helpful to find a mentor or someone in the field that you are interested in pursuing. Using the SkillUp Career Explore resource can be instrumental in helping you find various career opportunities that maybe you have not considered in the past.

Step 3.

Find out what you need to do to get the job. This is where you will want to know what type of training you will need to be considered a serious candidate for the job. Whether it’s on-the-job training (OJT), short term training (one year or less) or longer-term training programs (1 year or more), knowing this information will help you to decide how to go about getting the training you need and will keep focused on the end goal to complete the training. The Explore site provides tons of career training programs that you can choose from with many of them being short term or less than one year.

Step 4.

Apply for a job. After you have completed any required training programs it’s time to start applying for jobs in your dream career. Remember all that you’ve learned up to this point and set the tone for a great interview. It may also serve you well to dedicate some time to career coaching or interview preparation at this stage. SkillUp has a robust career catalog with tons of open jobs where you can start to apply for career opportunities in your area or remote opportunities, where applicable. In addition, we also offer career coaching sessions on a variety of relevant topics to help you put your best foot forward when applying to new .jobs

Step 5.

Be active in your chosen career. Now that you have decided what career you want, you have probably done some research on what the career entails and maybe even some training and landed a job (yay!), it is now time to begin pouring into your career. Staying current in your industry, subscribing to articles, and networking with others in your career path as well as attending relevant events will help keep you sharp and in the know. Remember to stay the course, reverse engineer your chosen career path and you will progress into your dream career in no time.

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