From College to Retirement: Mapping Your Career Path for Success

From College to Retirement: Mapping Your Career Path for Success was originally published on Vault.

Many people think of their lives as a series of phases that are passed through. In one phase, you are planning your college career to help you get the right job, in another you are saving for retirement and for your kids to go to college, and then in the end you are enjoying your retirement and looking back on your life.

While there is value in considering the unique phases of your life by themselves, you would be wise to remember that all of your choices along the path of your career are linked to one another. You cannot make choices that will not have a ripple effect on your future, but there is no need to stress about the decisions you make if you have set goals for your career in mind.

If you are ready to learn more about mapping your career path for success, read on!

Pick a Degree.

While it can be hard to know what the future will bring and what you might want to do for your entire career, you do not need to actually think of college in this light. You will not know for sure what kind of degree you will need for jobs that you have yet to learn about, but you can make sure that you are marketable for all the possible job options that might present themselves to you.

If you are not sure what exact job you want to have in the future, pick a good, marketable degree path like business management or a science degree to help you be eligible for many jobs in the future. You might need to adjust your degree focus down the road or get an additional degree to progress in your career, but you should make sure that you have the right undergraduate degree under your belt to be able to get most of the jobs that you want.

Use Campus Resources.

Don’t be afraid to use campus resources to help you get connected with jobs, internships, and networking opportunities at companies that you want to work for. You will find that it is much easier to locate the job of your dreams when you are connected with these resources than it would be to apply for jobs blindly.

One of the key benefits of using the help of campus career experts is that you can talk to other people who work in the field itself and learn more about the work before you apply. This will help you get connected with jobs you really want and save you from finding out that you can’t stand a job you thought you would love.

Stick it Out For at Least a Year.

No matter what kind of job you get when you are first out of college, if there are not any outstanding once-in-a-lifetime opportunities available to you, try to stay at your first job for at least a year. When you have a limited job history, you will want to indicate that you are reliable and will stick around. Companies are wary about hiring people who change jobs too often.

This is where a resume that shows at least one year of employment at any one business is going to get much more attention than one that indicates a lot of abrupt changes of course. Companies want to feel like you will be loyal and not leave as soon as a new job presents itself.

Consider Growth Opportunities.

It is always wise to know what the path to increased success is in any job. Make sure that you inquire about the requirements to get to management positions or jobs that have increased responsibility. You will want to be able to show a progression of skills and personal improvement on your resume so that you can apply successfully for jobs in the future.

Never forget that your current job could be terminated or changed in some way and you might need to move on to a new job. It is always wise to seek ways to make yourself more marketable, even if that means undertaking small tasks with new software or working on joint projects with other teams at your company.

Make Sure That You Are Open to More Education.

If there is a need at some point to get a graduate degree or to add a continuing education credential to your resume, make sure to take this opportunity and run with it. You should always be open to the chance that you might have to get more education or more degree qualifications under your belt before you apply for a job that you really want. There is no harm in being overqualified for a job that you are applying for, and even if you do not get the exact job that you wanted, most companies look at similar requirements for jobs that are management or advanced responsibility positions.

Save Money for Retirement.

Make sure that you always put money into the retirement program at your current job. This is a smart thing to do at any place that you work so that you can have a nest egg to fall back on when you retire. You should still be saving money through other investments and money-saving means, but companies usually offer matching and other benefits that you will be missing out on if you snooze on the retirement plan benefits.

It almost always costs people far more to retire than they expect and you will have a lot of money just growing in your retirement fund that you can use for your living expenses when you decide that you want to be done working.

Consider Skills That Will Help You Be Diverse.

Always keep in mind that you might need to work part-time when you are older or maybe you will want a part-time job during changes to your life situation like pregnancies or illnesses. If you are willing to invest in some skills that can be used away from the office to generate income, you will have added financial security to fall back on.

Beyond this, sometimes a job that starts out as a part-time focus will turn into a new career opportunity that you never thought you would get to have. These kinds of side efforts can lead to added financial security for you and your family even during tough times that you could never have planned for.

Think About What Age You Want to Retire.

While it might seem like retirement is well off in the future, you will find that time flies faster than you think. You will always need to have the future in mind when you make decisions about your savings and your retirement planning so that you do not cheat yourself out of security and opportunity later in life.

If you want to retire early, for example, you will need to be sure that you are not missing any chance to contribute to your savings planning with your full available resources. This can make it much easier for you to have the freedom to make these kinds of choices down the road and people who are not thinking about this part of their career are often dismayed to find that they will need to work well past the normal retirement age in order to have enough money to live on.

As an added note, there are some questions about whether or not social security will be around or will be changed over the next ten years or so, and everyone who is thinking that this income will be made available to you in the future might want to hedge their bets that it will not, just to be safe. While it is likely that there will be some form of social security in the next twenty or thirty years, it might look very different than it does now.

Planning Ahead is Key to Keeping Your Career on Track.

Career choices can be made to help you pursue a passion or invest in yourself, but they can also be made to help you think about your future when you are at retirement age or older. There are many factors that go into every career decision that a person makes during their lifetime, but if you are open to making changes that will advance your career and improve your future while also thinking strategically, you should be in good shape for your retirement at the end of the day.

Having a solid career planning strategy in mind at all times can help you to have the career of your dreams and live the life that you have always dreamed of.


Gabe Nelson is a content specialist of over seven years of experience, currently working with He has a passion and keen understanding when it comes to the HR and recruitment industry. He has written hundreds of content pieces in numerous niches. Currently, he lives in Missouri with his wife and kids.