A Christmas Carol for Your Career
It might seem contrary to the interests of a newsletter titled “Study Guide” to encourage you not to study, but that’s precisely what we’re going to do in this special holiday edition. During this week, we’d like to persuade our readers to give the books, simulations, home labs, practice tests (questions included in this edition excluded, of course), etc. a rest and spend some real quality time with family and friends. That’s what this season’s about, after all.
What we would recommend as you step back from certification for a week, though, would be to look at the big picture of your chosen vocation. Spend some time reflecting on your career — where it’s been, where it is and where it’s going. With that in mind, we’ll delve into our version of the oft-caricatured Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol” for the purposes of examining your professional past, present and future.
The Ghost of Your Past Career
In “A Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge is visited first by a ghost who shows him memories of his past, in the process showing him how he came to be the man he was. In CertMag’s version, we ask you to take a look at the progression of your career so far and evaluate it against the following questions:
- Do you see a logical connection among the various jobs you’ve held up until now?
- Have you taken steps (certification, training, etc.) to ensure you’re upwardly mobile?
- What skills and knowledge do you possess now that you didn’t five years ago?
The Ghost of Your Present Career
Dickens’ next supernatural visitor was the Ghost of Christmas Present, who offers scenes of the Cratchits’ Christmas celebration. The family tries to have a nice holiday in spite of Scrooge’s poor treatment (financially and professionally) of employee and patriarch Bob Cratchit and the apparent looming death of son Tiny Tim. Scrooge comes to realize his actions have consequences, sometimes injurious.
As you dwell on your present professional exploits, think about the possible results by considering these questions:
- Are you where you want to be at this point in your career? Are you where you should be?
- What does your performance in your job demonstrate to superiors, colleagues and subordinates — leadership, technical expertise, communication, professionalism?
- Have you positioned yourself for advancement?
- Do you consider what you do to be a calling?
The Ghost of Your Future Career
The final and scariest spirit of Scrooge’s dream was the Grim Reaper-like Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, who demonstrates to Scrooge how he brings about the death of both Tiny Tim and himself. But he also receives some helpful guidance: This can be avoided if you change your ways.
While reflecting on what might be in store for your career, consider the following:
- What is the next likely step on your professional path?
- What skills, knowledge, certifications, training, experience and education will you need to get there?
- What is your ultimate goal, occupationally speaking?
- Do you need to change your career course?
In the end of Dickens’ tale, of course, Scrooge gets a new outlook on life and changes the future for the better. If you evaluate your career and make the necessary changes to ensure success, you likely will have many happy holidays to come.