Planning for the future and setting professional and personal goals can set you up for success and set you apart from your peers. Even more so, confidence in strengths, talents, and short and long-term goals are appealing attributes to any employer in today’s competitive professional arena. However, becoming successful at developing professional and personal goals can be challenging and overwhelming. This is often especially true for students or recent graduates who have little experience in the professional world. That’s where roadmapping comes into play. With roadmapping, you can outline ideas and showcase your ability to set realistic and challenging goals – in any aspect of life.
Roadmapping your goals are important - and helpful - because it holds you accountable to planning aspirations and creating a clear representation of how those aspirations will be accomplished. I was first introduced to the idea of roadmapping when I took on the client development representative role at Education at Work, a non-profit in the customer service outsourcing industry that aims to help college students graduate with increased professional skills and less student debt. Shortly after being hired into the department, I was asked to create a roadmap of the goals I held for my time with the company, as well as how would I like to achieve them. When I began roadmapping my future I decided I would highlight four key areas: experiences, accomplishments, career plans, and personal goals. Using this outline, I critically thought about each area, detailing attributes I either possess or want to cultivate.
When I began adding items to each of the four sections, I considered both my current responsibilities and the responsibilities of those above me in my department. I believe this is an excellent strategy because as you develop in a career, new experiences are essential for growth and advancements to occur. For instance, in my current role I am responsible for conducting outbound prospecting calls and securing appointments with potential clients. To achieve this, I reach out to relevant contacts at companies and pitch them our value proposition in attempts to schedule a meeting, which will hopefully lead to them becoming a new client. Oftentimes, the contacts I reach out to are hearing about Education at Work for the first time, so I must establish a relationship and cultivate their interest.
By reflecting on this, I realized that in order to better understand prospective clients, I needed to gain networking skills. So, I included “networking with potential clients and attending conferences” in my roadmap’s “experience” section. Even though this experience is outside of my current immediate responsibilities, gaining it would help me be better at my current role within new client prospecting.
To identify other items for my roadmap, I asked for advice from colleagues. This, as well as shadowing a supervisor on a task of interest, and offering to takeover a supervisor’s menial or simpler tasks, are all ways to gain work experience and help figure out what to add to your roadmap.
When I brought my roadmap to my supervisor, she was excited for the goals I had set and the new experiences I wanted to learn. From my experience, when you tell your supervisor that you are interested in gaining more skills in a particular area, the response is extremely positive! We worked together to formulate an action plan that would implement all of my goals in a timeline best fit for my position. By striving for a goal and setting small tasks to achieve it, I created a perfect strategy for success and growth in my future development. It is never too early to begin the discussion of understanding, shadowing, and learning new responsibilities! This shows immense drive to an employer and displays confidence and drive. Roadmapping has helped me immensely by clarifying and objectifying my goals, and encourages me to strive for future success through directional tasks and plans of action. I’m excited for my future career and grateful to begin my work experience with EAW.
EAW student-employee for 2.5-years, started as a customer service agent on a retail program. She has earned $3,000 in tuition assistance through EAW.