10 Professional Goals For The Aspiring Professional

Heather R. HuhmanCandidate Advice

goal setting

Image Credit: Dallas Travers

If you’re approaching your last semester of college, there’s probably a million different things going through your mind. From the excitement of what the future holds to the uncertainty of what happens next, there’s a whirlwind of emotions and feelings you’ll experience over the next several months.

Whether you realize it or not, you started your career a few years ago when you first stepped foot on your college campus. From that very moment, you embarked on a journey that would shape the path that lies ahead of you now. Because of this, it’s time for you to continue the journey by creating professional goals that will help you make the leap into the future of your career.

When transitioning from college student to professional, it’s important to make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound). This is important because these goals will help you stay focused and motivated throughout your career. Professional goals are essential to your success because they will encourage you to chase after your dreams.

Goal setting is key to creating a successful future. To help you get on track during your final semester of college, here are some professional goals to set for yourself in the upcoming year:

1. Seize opportunities.

This is the time of your life where anything is possible. While there is often much comfort in having a plan, sometimes you have to live in the moment and seize whatever opportunity comes your way. One of the best things about entering the professional world is having the opportunity to shape your career. Make sure you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities waiting to be discovered.

2. Befriend a super connector.

A super connector is someone who helps make opportunities happen. They have connections with the right people and are bound to have the perfect connection for you. Make sure you build a strong relationship with a super connector in your career. This person will serve as an excellent mentor and support you along the way.

3. Read and write often.

Reading and writing can be understated in this fast-paced, tech-savvy, ever-changing world. Make it a goal to read books, newspapers, blogs, and magazines, as well as any material that will help you develop personally and professionally. It’s also important to be writing often, whether it’s for a blog or in a journal. Both of these activities will help you transition into a successful professional.

4. Find your burning passions.

What’s the one thing that truly sparks excitement and brings you happiness in life? Whether it’s a hobby or something career-related, zero in on those passions and own them. These passions are what set you apart from everyone else in the world. Go after them and you’ll see great things happen in your career.

5. Develop your skills, even after graduation.

Your education doesn’t stop after you cross that stage. Make it a goal in your career to be a life-long learner. Always keep reading about the latest skills, trends, and tools in your profession. Make time to attend conferences, networking events, seminars, and workshops. If you want to always have an edge on your career, you have to be willing to take the extra step to keep learning what it takes to be a rockstar in your field.

6. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Some of the best experiences you’ll have in your career are sitting just out of your comfort zone. Allow yourself to try things you’ve never done before and even take advantage of opportunities that just sound crazy. You never know what path your career will take unless you have an open mind and experience new things.

7. Don’t fear the unknown.

Right now, it’s probably impossible to imagine exactly what your life will look like in six months. Although it’s normal to feel uneasy about what the future holds after graduation, it’s important not to have fear. If you continue to network, focus on your passions, and create opportunities for yourself, there will be nothing to fear once you graduate.

8. Build a genuine and memorable brand for yourself.

As an aspiring professional, one of your goals should be to build a memorable brand. Your personal brand is how people will recognize you and remember you throughout your career. Be sure to build a positive reputation for yourself that is genuine and shows your passions and personality.

9. Take responsibility.

The most successful professionals are people who take responsibility for their actions and current situation in life. There’s no one else to hold accountable for your life other than yourself. Regardless of the positive and negative experiences you have through out your career, only you can hold yourself responsible for the person you are today.

10. Stay productive. 

The only way you’re going to accomplish your goals and reach success is if you stay productive. Don’t fall into the trap of sticking to your part-time job after college and not pursuing full-time employment. Always seek out opportunities and fill your time with productive and positive activities that will help your accomplish your goals.

These professional goals are realistic and easily attainable for any aspiring professional. Hopefully by adopting some of these goals in the new year, you will fear less about the future and feel excited to embrace new opportunities.

What professional goals are you creating for yourself in the upcoming year?

Heather R. Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.