As vague as it might sound, questions that always come to mind when one is trying to build a career are, “What do I do?” “How do I start?” “Where do I go from here?” “How do I get there?”
It is one thing to find a field of focus and another to successfully find resources to help you build a career in it. This is where DataCamp comes in.
DataCamp Donates has generously offered WiBD members a scholarship to earn any certificate for FREE.
Different certificates and several projects in different fields under big data are offered, no matter your level of expertise. Integrated with things like learning points, and leadership boards to encourage healthy competition amongst folks, the platform drives people to learn more with well-guided lessons.
Now, even when resources are made available to people, without a strategic approach, one is likely to end up burning time without making any progressive advancement in their career. A universal problem?
Career advancement from here to there with Deborah Sgro
In this session with members of WiBD, Deborah Sgro, a career coach, founder, and owner of Beyond the Glass Ceiling who specializes in coaching technologists and business professionals at all levels, spoke about career advancement strategies in a presentation entitled “Getting From Here to There.”
The professional landscape is currently challenging due to the rise of AI. However, Deborah, who presented “Future-proofing one’s career in a world of emerging AI” at the 2023 National Career Development Association conference, explored the architecture involved in building a progressive career.
What is career advancement?
Although there are many professional definitions for what career advancement is, a more simplified yet unique one is given. A carefully planned and executed process to elevate rank, position, or scope of influence by increasing one’s skill and enhancing one’s value – Deborah Sgro.
This entire architecture is described pictorially with the aid of a bridge.
Picture a bridge in your local community or any bridge at all. Done that? Say you are standing at one end of that bridge, say Downtown Brooklyn like the picture above, and you are trying to get across to Lower Manhattan – the other end of the bridge, but in this case, there’s no bridge there yet.
Here, Brooklyn represents where you currently are in your career, in terms of your experience, skills, and abilities. Manhattan represents where you want to be – the future envisioned self.
Getting to “Manhattan” from “Brooklyn”
This brings us to the concept of building a bridge.
What do you need? What skills and experiences are required in this future state?
Building a bridge is another way of saying, “What is the plan?” “What is the career advancement strategy you will create and execute to enhance the needed skills you already possess and acquire the ones you don’t yet have to arrive and thrive on the other shore – Deborah Sgro.
Some steps that will help you successfully bridge a path between your current and desired state are highlighted below:
Do a self-reflection to know why you want to achieve that feat, making sure to categorize each reason, be it professional or personal.
What level of expertise, and skills are required from anybody who wants to get there?
Brings us to the concept of inventory. Inventory here represents the skills that are connected with a particular career stage. It goes beyond just the work and technical skills, but also covers the interpersonal and business skills associated with it.
With this, goal setting enters the picture.
Once the goal is set, create a plan that helps you execute it, and, most importantly, ensure you EXECUTE THE PLANS.
Models to help with skill inventory and assessment process:
Just like making a meal requires several ingredients to get the job done, so does having a successful career.
The career equation is an intersection of professional, interpersonal, and business skills.
The professional aspect circles around one’s technical knowledge, quality of work-related performance, and one’s field of expertise.
Interpersonal skills involve one’s interaction with colleagues, team leads, managers, and other superiors.
It essentially involves your ability to unambiguously communicate thoughts and opinions, your consistency in giving feedback, how well you manage workplace conflicts, and even how well you do not let external forces affect your workplace attitude.
Learning about the mission and goal of a company you are in, the values they offer their client and customers, or as summarized, knowing the business of your business, are all encompassed in the business skills.
For one to successfully advance, acquisition and the enhancement of the aforementioned skills is a great step towards attaining career success.
The career level roadmap is described as iterative, as every step is an essential foundation for the next.
As you move from one level to another, it is important to note one’s scope of influence, where the scope of influence is defined as one’s responsibility when it comes to individual, team, department, or enterprise success.
As you grow along this path, it is important to note that professional, interpersonal, and business skills that make up the career success equation must be obtained at every level of one’s career.
While professional and interpersonal skills may be easy to understand to certain persons, for most people, business skills are usually neglected. You may ask, “How do I know the business of my business?”
Suggestions include reading trade journals, industry publications, and financial reports, and finding out what makes the company different from the competitors. These are ways through which one can get to know their business’ business. You can also use this to your advantage during interviews.
Heart of The Program – BUILDING YOUR BRIDGE
Following the template, the details are replaced with those personally associated with you.
A sample given is a student trying to find their foot in data science. The “Currently” section can be filled with, “I am a student pursuing a career in data science.”
For the envisioned role, “My goal is to be a data scientist in the tech industry.”
Be open with the personal benefits envisioned. Be it for personal gains? No problem, to contribute to a community? All good.
Noting the skills required and the ones that are missing or need improvement comes next. After this, a well-detailed plan set out for the execution of these goals is required with timelines and definitions of success criteria.
With all these, the importance of networking cannot be over-emphasized. Finding people who are in line with the goals we want to achieve goes a long way to help drive us toward our desired career state. The people we network with can be something as small as your friend group circles to a greater reach like your manager.
The question of the difference between relating with mentors and managers was discussed.
A mentor (or a coach) provides confidentiality and a safe space to explore one’s shortcomings and hesitancies. The conversations with one’s manager focus more on receiving feedback, exploring career opportunities within the team/company, and networking with others within the organization.
When it comes to initiating this career advancement strategy, is there anything like a right time for it?
Conclusively, implementation of this strategy should go into action, the moment you read this very line, as there is nothing like a “perfect time” to start advancing your career. You do it now, not later, and you do it all the time.
A very special thank you to Deborah Sgro , Srabasti Banerjee , Shala Arshi , and everyone for this eye-opening and mind-reforming session. If one has only thought but not found a way to get into action, this session was all they needed.
Watch the recording here.