What is Career Design?

4 minute read
What is Career Design

Are you a student? An early career professional? You surely want an awesome career, right? So, do you have a plan? Maybe the plan is for the next step…but what about the many steps after that? What about 10 years later? Do you have a long-view plan? Well, you must! Based on several years of teaching at premier international universities, I advise early-career professionals to plan their own journeys of success via careful SMART Career Design.

What is Career Design? 

You might say “We plan our careers all the time…”. Sure, we do. But not all of those are successful. Sometimes the path to achieving those goals is not thought out in a strategic way. At other times, the careers we choose may be the result of peer pressure or parental expectations, which leads to a mismatch between aptitude and profession. This can result in low satisfaction and low motivation. This is where Career Design comes in. Career Design is a concept – a special process where you use a combination of self-awareness and strategy to carve out a unique map to your needs and specific to your goals. Here is a road map:

Step 1: Self-Reflection

Ask yourself a bunch of introspective questions. Where are you now? Where do you see yourself 10 years later? What do you value closest to your heart? Are family expectations or your own hesitations acting as barriers to the future life you want? How can you push past those and be authentic about what you really want? What causes do you care about and what do you value? Can you take the leap and pursue your passion?

Reflect on your 3 Ps (Personality-Preferences-Passions). Brainstorm with trusted friends and mentors. Take feedback to become more self-aware about what you value beyond the pay-check.

Step 2: Map your Career Design

If you are an early-career professional in a job, ask yourself a simple question — Beyond financial security, what do I need for my work to be more fulfilling? What are my ‘must-haves’? Can this be achieved within my current organization or will I need a career move? Read up about those ‘dream jobs’. What would that need — More courses? Certifications? Another degree? Study Abroad?

Career Design needs SMART STRATEGY. Do not make quick decisions at this point!

At this stage, it’s important to write down your overarching aims: Are your goals measurable?  It’s not enough to say: “I want to be successful!” Be specific in your goals. Make a Plan. Map a future for yourself.


Write out your plan as a word map. Spell out the details for your own clarity and as a progress tracker:

  • Create a timeline for your Career Design.
  • Do your research and calculate the financial requirements
  • Search for the jobs you want in the future? Study the job market. Where are these jobs overseas? Are you ready to move?
  • On that basis, do Goal-setting for your Career Design at two levels:
    • Short-term goals : What do I want to accomplish within a year?
    • Long-term goals: Where do I want to reach in the next 5-10 years?

NOTE: Goals may be high, but they need to be achievable – by you.

My favorite saying: “Keep Wings in the Air, Feet on the Ground”

Stage 3: Execute. Implement. TAKE ACTION!

This is where you begin to act upon your Career Design. Ask yourself:

  • By the end of year, what are the courses that I will complete?
  • Can I do an online internship alongside my job or my study program?
  • Can I offer to assist my professors or my manager in one of their projects so I can gather more experience (and also request this person for a referral in future)?
  • Are there bootcamps that I can attend in the next 3 months?
  • How else can I upskill?


If you are already in a job, begin with small steps by completing courses and attending workshops specific to your niche. Small accomplishments will keep you motivated to push the boundaries and fly higher!

Smart Career Design is a win-win—both for professionals and organizations because employee satisfaction leads to higher productivity and higher profitability. So if you are an early-stage professional remember:

Keep your Dreams Big,
Keep your Plans Practical,
Be authentic about your 3 PsPersonality-Preferences-Passions
That’s SMART Career Design. 

Dr. Maina Chawla Singh will be back with another blog next Friday! Watch this space to get insights into study abroad details. What would you like to read next? Comment down below, and we will cover the topic shortly.

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