Use an Annual Career Statement to Assess Your Career

Do you remember back when you were applying to grad school and you had to write a personal statement? In a personal statement, you have to explain why you want to pursue a graduate degree, what you want to specialize in (or in my case, what you pretended to want to specialize in because WHO REALLY KNOWS!), and how a graduate degree will get you on your career path.

Well, some graduate schools have started requiring their students to revisit and revise this statement at the end of each year. In the annual update, you revisit the original (or most recent version), and then revise to more accurately reflect your area of specialty, what you’ve accomplished in the year, and better align with your career aims, as all of those things may have changed.

Have you ever thought about writing an annual personal statement for your career?

Just for you – not your employer, not your annual performance review. But just as a way to check in with yourself, revisit where you were a year ago, and how your needs and goals have evolved?

It’s very common that academics who end up in alt-ac jobs still aren’t sure what they want to be when they “grow up.” So taking the time to really reflect on where you are currently, and where you feel like you want to go next is a worthwhile exercise. It helps you focus, it helps you articulate to yourself what you “are” (what you do, what profession or industry is your work home), and what you need to work on to get to where you want to be.

There’s no assigned outline for this. This is your career statement, just for you. But I’ve got a Google template for an annual career statement that you might find helpful to get started here. I’ve even included some common responses I see but you need to tailor it to you. Just add rows as needed, type over the provided responses, etc. This exercise is helpful because it reminds you why you made certain decisions, forces you to identify some ways to make forward progress, and serves to document how you have grown.

So give it a shot. Let me know how it’s working for you!

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