Developing Career Goals


The Importance of Goals

College involves many weighty decisions that can significantly impact the career opportunities available after graduation. Understanding your career goals and priorities is essential to evaluating coursework, extracurricular activities, and employment options. Goals can also help focus your attention and efforts on the most important tasks, while serving as a motivational force that can enhance your chances of success.

Getting Started

Start by considering long-term career goals. What professional fields seem most interesting, and what efforts are necessary to pursue these positions? Next, evaluate medium-term academic goals that align with your career aspirations. What majors, minors, and electives might prove useful? Continue creating progressively more specific and shorter-term goals until you’ve established objectives for the year and semester.

Daily Planning

Establishing a daily list of important objectives can ground your long- and medium-term aspirations in concrete action. Consider what individual tasks are necessary during a given week, and construct a daily to-do list that ensures their sequential accomplishment. A daily or weekly planner can greatly facilitate the scheduling of relevant assignments. Moreover, checking off small items on such a list can prove quite satisfying.


Carefully crafted career goals often carry more weight and prove more effective than amorphous aspirations.  In establishing goals, first ensure that your objectives are specific and measurable. Concrete metrics allow for periodic evaluation. Furthermore, make certain that your goals are both challenging and realistic. Pursuing tough goals can elicit results you never thought possible, but try not to push yourself too hard!

Commitment and Consistency

Achieving challenging career goals can require strenuous effort and long-term commitment. To persevere, consider actively discussing your goals with friends or family on a regular basis. According to social scientists, the psychological power of commitments often inspires people to follow through when times are tough. Writing down and prominently displaying relevant career goals can also remind you of important objectives.


Even the most thoughtful slate of goals can result in time conflicts. Say you’re striving for an A on the midterm tomorrow, but you plan to join a career-oriented club that’s meeting tonight; academic and extracurricular goals collide! The solution comes with prioritization. Understand which short-term goals are most important to your long-term objectives, and act upon them first. At college, academics should probably take priority.

Assessment and Revision

Once formulated, career goals are only useful if you evaluate your progress. Every few months, contemplate how fully you achieved short-term goals and how well these accomplishments supported medium- and long-term objectives. Did you make significant strides? After evaluating your progress, consider revising short-term tasks to streamline your efforts. Weed out distractions and focus on the most relevant goals.

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