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Revision as of 08:58, 10 February 2008 by Doug
Why is it important to plan your career?
- Without a clear plan it is difficult to achieve clear results, especially when you will have so many things pulling you in different directions -- research, teaching, service, family versus work, etc.
- Strategic planning on how to spend your limited time and resources will help you more efficiently and effectively achieve your goals.
- Setting Goals is the first and most important step because research has shown that goal setting is best way to both create an objective' and the motivation to achieve the objective.
- At the most basic level you need to know what activities further your goals and which activities do not. While this may seem simple to differentiate between the two, you may find that your career goals and the expectations of your department overlap in some ways but not others.
- So how do you identify your career goals and how do you identify the expectations of your department...
Your Department's Expectations
How to learn what is expected of you?
- During the job search process you probably learned about the school's relative weighting of research and teaching.
- During the interview process asking key questions is an important starting step in learning how the school specifically weights research and teaching. See below for what questions to ask.
- Talk to people at every level -- Dean, Department Chair, senior faculty, junior faculty, etc. Some of the questions you would ask are the same at every level, such as what are your expectations of me; some of the questions will be different at every level, such as wanting to know from junior faculty what was the most difficult part of your adjustment to the department, and wanting to learn from senior faculty what were the difference between those who received tenure and those who did not in the 10 years.
- Ask as many people as possible because hopefully there will be agreement between them. If there is not perfect overlap, at the very least you want to find commonalities by triangulating similar information from different sources. But what if you find inconsistent information? -- see the section below about What to do if you find conflicting information.
- Learn about their expectations and goals before providing information to them about your own. Why? Because you don't want to underestimate (and provide them a negative opinion about what they may perceive as laziness or underachievement) and you don't want to overestimate (and set too high of a goal that could diminish your chances of success).
What questions should I ask?
- What is expected of me?
- In the last 10 years, how many people received tenure?
- What were the difference between those who received tenure and those who did not?
- What resources exists for helping me achieve my goals
- What is the expected level of research, teaching, and service (RTS)? Be sure to quantify what they expect of you. Some schools split the RTS as 40%, 40%, 20%, but what does 40% mean? What does 20%?
- Is the evaluation process formal or informal?
- How am I going to be evaluated?
- Is the evaluation conducted each year or every other year?
What to do if conflicting expectations?
- What happens if the information you get is inconsistent when talking to the Dean, Department Chair, senior faculty, junior faculty, etc.? What happens when you can't get specific and concrete statements?
- The first question to ask if who is the the primary decision-maker?
- The next question is why there may be inconsistencies?
Your Career Goals
- The most important person for your professional development is you!
- It is also important to know your department's expecatations before you start strategically planning your own career. Why? Because you need to fit your own goals within the larger objective of obtaining tenure.
- Research has shown the best way to accomplish objectives is to set clear and concrete steps.
- Putting each step down on paper allows you to have a periodical reminder of the steps and allows you to check-off each one as they are accomplished.
- Research has shown that the steps are best when obtainable.
- Research has shown that the steps are best when obtainable. What does this mean? Not every career goal is measurable. For example, what does it mean to be a "leading scholar in the field"?
- You need to operationalize your career goals/steps just as you would operationalize a variable when conducting research. What does it mean to have "research productivity"? Do you (and/or your department) consider one publication a year as productive? Two publications a year? Two publications in "good" journals? How do you define a "good" journal?
- Putting each step down on paper allows you the ability to evaluate your own progress.
- You should evaluate yourself every year because you need to identify how much progress has been made in comparison to your expectations; and more importantly, you need to identify *why* you may not have accomplished as much as expected.
- Be prepared to revise or modify your plan as unforeseen issues arise or as you learn more about how much time/effort will be required to accomplish your steps.
Worksheets to help you
- At this point you have learned about Your Department's Expectations and Your Career Goals.
- Now it is time to integrating all the expectations and goals into a Strategic Plan.
- First, categorize your activities into Research, Teaching, and Service.
- Second, for each category you are going to identify: (1) your GOALS, (2) your PLAN to attain the goals, and (3) the intended COMPLETION DATE.
- GOALS - you want your stated goals to be concrete, obtainable, and measurable
- PLAN - each concrete step should be specified in a sequential implementation strategy
- DATE - identify your intended date of completion for each step.
- Third, here is an example Worksheet you can use -- Example Goals Worksheet
- You may want to break-up your goals into different years (e.g., first year, second year, third year, etc)
- And then have a final Goal Worksheet that summarizes all years in the plan.
For more information...
- The Center for Excellence in Teaching at the University of Southern California has online instructional videos, powerpoint presentations, and other resources about Teaching and Learning, Academic Careers, and a Video Project about related topics.
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