#75 Career Investment: Planning for the Future What does it look like for you to invest in your career – additional certificates, accolades, extra knowledge, etc.? While these and similar items can be great for your career investment, consider these items for a well-rounded career! A Great Start As I worked during my college years to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering, it seemed like a no-brainer to attend graduate school. An advanced degree, I told myself, would open the door to ample opportunities and higher salaries. Seemed logical to me! After earning that engineering master’s degree while working full-time, my logic was eventually proven true. I’m convinced my graduate degree opened doors that my bachelor’s degree would not have (although, it took years for this to happen). It is also true I was able to increase my salary in later years thanks to my advanced degree. Then, something shifted. I decided it wasn’t enough. Since I had not experienced my “dream” job, or anything close to it, and since my future seemed directionless, I thought I needed additional career investments. I believed, “an advanced degree isn’t enough; I need another.” See Post #43: What is My Right Career Path? The more degrees, the merrier! At least, that is what I told myself. The Bigger Picture We can compound many add-ons in the form of degrees, certifications, qualifications, etc. This is all fine and dandy … unless we believe it is the only path to a thriving future. Adding external acknowledgements to your portfolio is simply one portion of the bigger, complex pie. The bigger picture is that is takes much more than the degrees, certifications, or external add-ons to adequately invest in your career. (See Post #60: Dealing with People). Have you worked with ultra-smart people who are so shy, they don’t want to look a stranger (or a colleague) in the eyes? Perhaps you know someone who is great in their communications, yet they communicate a lot of fluff? Proper career investment, in addition to all your degrees, certifications, qualifications, includes elevating your interpersonal, emotional intelligence and other soft skills. These skills influence the way in which you handle work relationships. Your knowledge, breakthroughs or results are futile unless you can confidently navigate yourself in the dynamic, confusing atmosphere of human relationships. Long-Term Investing Simply put, there is both a science and an art to being an employee. Most of us like to check the boxes in the science category, aiming for the extra knowledge, trainings, or courses. Which is a great thing! However, it is only part of the equation. There is an art in the ways you perform your career. Here are a few resources to help you get acquainted with the art form of conducting yourself as an employee: Self-awareness – Self-awareness is the ability to see yourself clearly and objectively through reflection and introspection. Situational awareness – Situational awareness is the use of the sensory system to scan the environment with the purpose of identifying threats in the present or projecting those threats into the future. Emotional intelligence – Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Soft skills Soft skills are abilities that relate to how you work and how you interact with other people. Communication skills – Every job requires human interaction—whether it’s with your supervisors and colleagues or with clients and customers. Developing strong communication skills can help facilitate these interactions with others, enabling you to perform your job more efficiently and productively. As you accumulate more professional experience, you’ll find that a phenomenal scientific skillset can only take your career so far. Career investment is so much more than book smarts. Heightening your internal skills is an essential way to supplement your accolades. Eventually, you can present yourself as the well-rounded candidate that employers do not want to be without! If you enjoy this content, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and ask me about free strategy sessions for your career!