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What’s YOUR Plan?

Are you planning for tomorrow? Next week? Next semester? Next Year? All are vital to your career. No plan = no productivity = no job. Begin by thinking about your long-term goals and then, the shorter-term goals. Then, plan out the weekly, daily, and monthly activities that help you to reach your goals. Below is a sample plan for someone who wants to become an administrator in a domestic violence agency (as an example).


Long-term goal:

Become an administrator at a domestic violence agency within 8 years.

Intermediate goals:

  • Finish bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences, human development and family studies, or program that trains you in family services (4 years on average).
  • Receive a Master’s degree in family and consumer sciences, HDFS, business administration, or other field that will train you for an administrator role (1.5 – 3 years, depending on the program and your other goals or priorities).
  • Get a graduate assistantship, which can assist with your tuition costs, help you build leadership or administrative skills, and provide you with opportunities to work closely with University faculty members or others who can write reference letters for you (throughout the time you are in graduate school, so roughly 1.5 – 3 years).

Shorter-term goals:

  • Take a course and get a domestic violence 40-hour training certificate (the time this takes will vary depending on who is offering it, if the course is affiliated with a college or University); if this course is not offered at your college, find out if credits can be transferred or if you can complete an independent study, which allows you to receive credit for going through a course like this
  • Take classes that relate to this topic (for example, family violence, intimate partner violence, parent-child relationships, family law); if some of these classes are not available in your department, search for electives that you can take in other departments at your college or University.
  • Indentify ways that you can volunteer for a domestic violence or related agency and make sure this is the field you want to enter because it can be draining and not as rewarding on a daily basis as new graduates may think (see article, Avoiding Burnout).
  • Complete an internship that allows you to work with domestic violence survivors, gain social service agency experience, and or network with domestic violence professionals. Also, see Finding an Internship and Making the Most of Your Internship Experience.
  • Find a paid job in a domestic violence agency.
  • Find a mentor (or multiple mentors) that can help keep you on track towards achieving your goals, provide advice, or connect you to others in the field. Also, see What is a Mentor and How Do I Find One? and Finding a Mentor: Think Out of the Box.
  • Work on your study habits, and keep your grades up.
  • Join a student or professional organization that will provide you with opportunities to learn about or network with individuals who work in domestic violence agencies or related fields. Also, see Why YOU Should Get Involved In Professional Organizations and Where to Start.
  • Engage in online networking as it relates to jobs or careers in the field of domestic violence. Establish a Linked In profile, and join domestic violence-focused groups. “Like” professional organizations or agency pages that relate to domestic violence; they could announce local, state, or national opportunities for you to get involved or help you to stay on top of the latest news or trends surrounding domestic violence. Also, see Successfully Using Online Networking

 Daily, weekly, or monthly planning:

  • Make lists of what you want to accomplish each semester, month, week, and day to work towards your goals.
  • Call domestic violence agencies and find out how you could work there, if they are hiring, and where you can take the required training necessary to work there.
  • Find out if they take volunteers after you have the proper training and before you can do paid work there.
  • Keep up with due dates for classes; turn papers in on time, study, and be prepared for class each day.
  • Make a daily “to do” list and refer back to it every hour or so to make sure that you remain focused on accomplishing the tasks on it.
  • Make your daily list before you turn on your computer, iPad, or phone.
  • Keep track of and limit your Facebook or other social time (e.g., texting, emailing friends, talking on the phone) each day (if you spend more than 2 hours a day on Facebook, you may be procrastinating, so keeping track of the time you spend on these activities and recognizing that you may be postponing the inevitable will help keep you in check). You could even trying scheduling these things into your plan (for example, after I write 3 pages of this paper, I will text Sarah and Jasmine about plans for tonight; spend from 1-1:15 scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed).
  • Stick to your schedule as this will play a role in your success with daily planning.

These are just a few examples and for one, specific career path. You may not know exactly what you want to do yet, but it is important to be intentional about your productivity. Sir Winston Churchill said, “It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see.” In other words, without goals, it will likely be difficult for you to focus and effectively manage your time…You might find that you are more internally motivated to complete daily, weekly, and monthly activities that allow you to work toward your short and long-term goals when the immediate future is not so ambiguous. Although all of us should remain flexible, we need to have a plan if we want to have a successful, fulfilling career.

About Jill Bowers

Jill is a certified family life educator (CFLE), certified family and consumer scientist (CFCS-HDFS), and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Human and Community Development at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She developed the idea for this project when she was working on a research project where she interviewed emerging adults (18-20 year olds). Work and career related content was something about which the emerging adults were most interested in learning more, and many of the issues that were at the center of their daily concerns were those surrounding their career plans and navigating the job market. Although some of the emerging adults in the study were aware of the fact that they could find information on the Internet to answer their questions or that there were resources available through their college or University, most of them could not recall being required to participate in any professional development courses that helped them with career-related skills and most of them suffered from “information overload” related to their Internet searches for information that would help them with their career paths. For example, some of them had been told about the importance of networking (e.g., at Career Fairs), but they did not really understand what this was or how to do it. Therefore, as a result of her experiences working with emerging adults, Jill initiated this project to help FCS students by providing them with information that will help ensure their success as they navigate the job market.

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