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All career plans are subject to change as life seldom runs along a predictable path. Career plans must be flexible to account for changes in market needs, the economy, globalization and overseas competition, company priorities, and required job skills. All can affect what your current job consists of, and what it might be in the future.

The best advice may be to embrace a positive, flexible, forward-looking attitude.  Be prepared for the next job, whatever and wherever that may be. Downsizing, layoffs, and gaps between projects can transform into positive growth, new opportunities, and expanding skills if flexibility is part of your career plan.  Other considerations for your career plan may include:
  • Personal interests and values
  • Skills you have; skills you need
  • Personal goals for the next 5, 10, 25 years
  • Financial needs or goals
  • Preference for large or small company or work environment
  • Geographic preferences
  • Goals for growth (skills, experiences, finances, personal)

Career management does not end once you secure a job; it is a life-long effort. Once you are on the job, take control of your career. Seek advice from managers, mentors, peers and colleagues, but keep control of your own career. Only you can decide what paths and choices are best for you. You need to discover what training and education will increase your value and your satisfaction.

Please be sure to use the resources of the Career Cornerstone Center in conjunction with the guidance of a counselor, teacher, or other who can help provide you with advice on career planning.  While we strive to make sure our data is current, we recommend that you check data, accreditation, tuition levels, and employment opportunities in a specific field with other sources before finalizing a career path.

Understanding Fields
Part of planning a career is determining what field you might like to work in.  Click here to explore the wide range of degree fields to choose from within science, technology, engineering, mathematics, computing, and healthcare.

Understanding Academic Degrees
A wide range of careers are available in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, computing, and healthcare for those with different types of academic degrees.  Find out more about different academic degrees including associate's, bachelors, and master's.

Job Hunting
Many factors should be considered during the search for a position.  Salary, location, size of company, opportunity for advancement, scope of work, projects, educational support, and others should be evaluated.  In any market, networking is an excellent way to surface job opportunities.  Also, professional associations can sometimes offer insight into market concentrations and available positions. There are a variety of websites that can help in identifying positions and narrowing a job search:

University/College Career Centers
Many colleges and universities have good online career centers that can help you not only explore the resources of the school, but also find out about school-based support for career research and job hunting. Click here to sample some online university career center sites.

Coops and Internships
Coops or internships provide a great opportunity to gain real work experience in the field you are studying or considering.  Find out more...

Career Cornerstone Center Profile Excerpts
The following excerpts from Cornerstone profiles offer suggestions regarding career planning, or how their own career plans shifted over time:

James W. Forbes, P.E.

Research Engineer
Ford Motor Company
Dearborn, MI

"There's a lot of career planning that goes on, and early on they ask you 'do you want to go into management?' 'do you want to stay in engineering?' 'what rotations do you want?' There a whole training period for the first couple of years. Most people who come into Ford will rotate through a number of different areas."
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Beth Lemen

Site Operations Manager, P&G Pharmaceuticals
Procter & Gamble
Cincinnati, OH

"I started out wanting to be an engineer, in high school. Just through being very good at math and science, and getting coaching from my guidance counselors. When I started looking at schools in-state, I looked at chemical engineering and mechanical engineering. Any school that had either of those. When I first started college, I actually went for chemical engineering. I took two semesters of chemical engineering, and decided it wasn't really what I wanted. I thought I wanted it because I was good at chemistry. I then took a semester of a mixture of courses. I took some electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and one civil engineering course, to try to feel for what I liked. And the courses I tended to excel in, understood, could reapply, were mechanical-engineering courses. And, so, I switched my major, my sophomore year. Went to school, over the summer, to catch up with my classes. And I've continued on from there."
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James Monroe

Associate Attorney
Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner
Washington, DC

"I think that if you talk to most patent attorneys, they will say that they never planned to become one. It was happenstance. People don't think, when they're in high school, that they're going to become a patent attorney, because they don't know about it. Only children of patent attorneys think about it. I was studying chemical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis and realized about halfway through my junior year that I really didn't want to be a conventional engineer. I wanted to go into something more business- or marketing-related, something besides just conventional engineering. So I did research, and it was hard to find out about alternative career paths. At the time, I just happened to be doing part-time work for a dean at the law school. One day she mentioned patent law. It stuck in my mind, so I started writing to people."
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Thomas Bean

Corporate Counsel
Lucent Technologies
Holmdel, NJ

"I would say the things that I'm most proud about are the time that I spent on introspection and taking career counseling, and even psychotherapy. I read one book on career counseling, or a section of it, at any rate, that said that it's not really possible to excel to your complete potential if you don't seek out a mentor or a career counselor or some type of therapeutic counseling and ask others to be your sounding board. So that you get feedback from others who have "objectivities" that you don't have. You have to test yourself, to find out and ask yourself, "Is what I'm doing worth it because it takes an awful lot of energy. It takes an awful lot of time." You only go through it once and you can look inside and make the tough decisions to change and let go of things. In my case, I would say what I've been most proud of, is the ability to let go of things that I had tremendous investments in -- even moving outside of my financial and academic investments in mainstream mechanical engineering and working in other areas that have been offshoots from that. That is something that has been the most significant -- and I would say, in retrospect -- the thing that I'm most pleased with. My ability to change. I think you're as good as your ability to change is robust."
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