Young Alumni: 5 ways to set yourself up for professional success in the new year

The beginning of a new year offers a natural point of reflection, and the ups and downs of the past 365 days may have provided a new perspective on what you really want and hope to achieve moving forward. Within your career, creating new goals is especially important in order to continue feeling curious, fulfilled, and engaged.

Setting goals (and accomplishing them) is easier said than done, and it can be a daunting process. Never fear: there are several concrete things you can do to further your career in 2022.

  1. Reflect: As you enter a new year, reflect on your professional life and what you might want to change. Whether you are hoping to revitalize your current career or find a new one, consider what you want to move toward. For many, the most important qualities of a fulfilling job include meaning, connection, opportunities for learning and growth, and impact. If your current position is lacking in any of these elements, think about whether you can actively seek them out in your organization or if you need to look for something new. It may also be helpful to consider how much autonomy and balance your current role provides. With more remote opportunities becoming available, it’s a good time to assess how your work situation is serving your needs.
  2. Update your résumé: If you’re looking for a new position, your first step is to make sure that your résumé is up-to-date. Even if you aren’t looking for a new position, updating your résumé is a great way to set yourself up for success in the new year. By taking stock of your most recent tasks and achievements, you create a sense of accomplishment and allow yourself to reflect on all that you have done over the past year. Updating your résumé also helps you determine what you still hope to accomplish moving forward. Consider sharing your résumé with your current manager, as a way to remind them of your recent accomplishments and bring up the things you wish to work on or learn. Ask: Who should I work with to make these things happen? Are you willing to explore these areas with me?
  3. Make new connections: Establishing connections within your organization and industry is a great way to continue advancing your career. Remember: People want to help! Having a professional support system can provide you with meaningful relationships and opportunities to learn. In the new year, set a measurable goal for networking. Whether you hope to schedule one informational interview each week, each month, or somewhere in between, having a specific goal will keep you on track. St. Olaf offers several tools to assist you with networking. Ole Connect is a great place to make connections and find new opportunities. LinkedIn is an excellent tool as well, allowing you to search for alumni on the St. Olaf page and filter your findings by industry. Once you have identified Oles working in your interest area, you can locate their contact information using the St. Olaf Alumni Directory.
  4. Learn a new skill: Developing new skills is important for any career. Many organizations encourage their employees to take courses or programs that provide them with new knowledge and expertise. Whether you’re hoping to improve your spreadsheet skills or become proficient in graphic design, there are plenty of professional courses and certifications available online.
  5. Volunteer: When in doubt, volunteer! Volunteering offers many ways to reinvigorate your career. By doing outreach work, you can learn new things, establish connections with individuals and organizations in your community, and make an impact. Volunteering can also provide clarity about what kind of meaning you are looking for in your professional life and how to achieve it.

Advancing your career takes work, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. By following these five simple steps, you’ll be sure to find engagement and meaning in your current job — or a new one — throughout this next year.

If you are in search of additional career advice and counseling, reach out to Piper Center Associate Director of Alumni Career Services Jenele Grassle. More resources and a link to book an appointment with Jenele are available on the Alumni Career Services page.