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New Year, New Me! Practical Career Development Tips for 2021

by Matthew Walton '22, Career Ambassador Jan 4, 2021

After this past year, which was like no other for many of us, most of us were eagerly anticipating 2021. We are now a few days in, and many of the challenges present in 2020 still remain. Yet, I challenge all of you to see the new opportunities that lie ahead in this new year.

Oftentimes, the New Year's resolutions that we come up with are abandoned by mid-January, and this phenomenon has always interested me. How can we set New Year’s resolutions that will stick, and how can any of this tie into Career Development?

A New Year’s resolution is designed to better us, usually by doing more or less of a given thing. A Career Development related resolution is relevant for all of us, because whether you are a freshman considering applying for your first work-study position, or a person who has been #adulting with a full-time job for a while now, there is always room to grow. Here are some tips to assist you in coming up with a Career Development New Years’ resolution:

  1. Be realistic. 
    Oftentimes, we kick our resolutions to the curb because when daily life picks back up, we find ourselves overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the demands of our resolution. For example, instead of deciding to spend an hour each day on your Career Development, consider trying something more realistic like an hour per week. Spend this weekly hour updating your resume and/or cover letter, searching for jobs, making or updating a LinkedIn profile, or taking some kind of career aptitude test.
  2. Step out of your comfort zone. 
    A good New Year’s resolution encourages you to change. Change is uncomfortable for many of us, but to truly make the most of a resolution, you will have to challenge yourself in manageable ways. For example, reaching out to a professional in your desired field for an informational interview may be a bit scary at first, but will pay off in the long run when you’ve made a connection who can help you in your career journey. A series of small, seemingly meaningless steps over the course of a year will make a big difference when looking back at 2021 retrospectively.
  3. Focus on where you struggle most. 
    This tip requires a truthful self-assessment. Once you can see where your career development is struggling the most, act on it! For example, if your resume is up-to-date, but you don’t have any semblance of a cover letter, commit yourself to writing one. Or if you’re weak with interviewing, commit yourself to preparing for and doing two mock interviews in 2021 to help yourself grow in this area.

By this point, you may have already established a few New Years’ resolutions, but if a career development related resolution is not one of them, consider coming up with one based on these steps. Whether you have a specific goal like obtaining a job at your dream company after graduation this May, or a goal as seemingly simple as writing a resume, don’t be afraid to use the start of this new year to kickstart your dreams. Set realistic goals that require you to step out of your comfort zone and will help you where you may be struggling.

And please remember that the Career Development Center at DeSales is here to assist you in any way we can, so please do not hesitate to invite us into your New Year’s resolutions and allow us to help make these dreams a reality. May God continue to gift you with safety and prosperity in this new year, and may He continue to keep all of you in His loving embrace during these challenging times.

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