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rite a Plan for the Future , developing and reflecting on your five-year goals.
Your submission must be at least 250 words long.
Your entry for this activity should have Three Elements:
Clear and specific statement of your 5-year goal(s). This assignment isn’t a contract with the universe or anyone else; you may refine or completely change your goals in the coming years. So, that means you shouldn’t twist your mind into knots trying to uncover and articulate the “perfect” goal. The point of this exercise is to imagine the concrete steps that someone might take to reach the desired outcome.
This: In 5 years, I want to be a country Desk Officer for the United States Department of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.
Not This: My goal is to work as a diplomat or something international. I just love traveling.
Discuss the tools you’ll need for success. What skills, personal attributes, certifications, credentials, experiences, and/or connections will you need to reach your stated goal(s)?
This: To reach this goal, I will probably need a master’s degree in International Relations and also some entry-level experience. I am looking into an internship or entry-level job with non-profit organizations that partner with the State Department. One of my professors mentioned the Foreign Service Officer test. I suspect that I will need that too.
Not This: Getting to be a diplomat is tough and competitive but I know I can distinguish myself because I am a hard worker who gets along well with other people.
In your discussion of the tools you’ll need for success, clearly state how you know what you know. In other words, you will need clear and specific references to the research and/or networking activities that you used to inform your thinking.
This: In researching this career, I studied several Desk Officer biographies on the State Department webpage and observed that most people in the field of diplomacy have advanced degrees, often studying International Relations. I also asked the FIU’s Career and Talent Development office for help in finding Florida organizations that are involved in international diplomacy. Working together, we found Global Ties Miami, an organization that works with the U.S. State Department’s professional exchange program. I have written to the director of Global Ties Miami to share my long-term goals and to ask about volunteer opportunities. I have also located the State Department’s information page for the Foreign Service Officer test. I still have lots of questions but I now I also have some answers too.
What to Avoid
Here are some Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them:
People who define their goals in terms of salary often struggle with this activity. People who think about their careers as a way to make a meaningful contribution to their communities, country, humanity, other living things or to planetary health, find that their thoughts flow more easily and they have more to think about and to say.
People who try to write a 5-year plan without networking or research often find that even their best ideas seem superficial and vague when they try to write them down. Sometimes we get a notion (a vague information-less idea) from movies or television shows that suggests a career path to us. Or out of a sense of romance, we connect two things that might not be as connected as they seem.
Joe saw a movie about a stock trader and now tells everyone he’s headed to Wall Street. But Joe knows very little about what college degrees most traders have or what actual traders do all day. He also hasn’t kept up with technological advancements; he has no idea, for example, about how algorithmic trading might change his prospects.
Linda loves dogs – old ones, puppies, big ones, little ones. Since junior high, she’s been telling everyone that she wants to be a veterinarian. But she doesn’t know how long people study to have that career or even if there are veterinary schools near her parents’ home. She’d like to stay in South Florida and raise her children near their grandparents, aunts, and cousins. How much student loan debt do most veterinarians carry. And mostly she has no idea what veterinarians do all day. What percentage of each day is spent on accounting, draining infected boils, euthanizing or sterilizing animals, cuddling cute puppies, and so on?
In both cases, Joe and Linda need more information: Although you are only required to produce 250 words, this task will take most people a few hour-long sessions to complete. That is because each sentence must convey a deep and informed understanding of your goal and how to reach it.
How to Get Started
Step 1: Here are three scenarios. Read each one and then imagine how this person might write his or her Plan for the Future section. Plan for the Future Examples.
Step 2: After you read the three scenarios, think about your own story. You might even try writing down your own story and printing it out. Then go back to the three required elements for this section of the report. Compare your story to the elements you’ll need to include for this section.
Pro Tip: Many students use thinking about and writing this section as an opportunity to network or investigate graduate programs. Things you might do: Using the internet, personal contacts or the FIU directory, locate someone who has already achieved your goal. Read their biography or informally interview them about the path they took to reach the goal. For example, if you are thinking of a career in video game story design, research which universities offer advanced training for this career; go to the library to locate books about it; talk to your friends; visit your professors during office hours.