Creating Your Career Vision, Part I

Slides for the session

Learning Goals

  • Understand design thinking principles and mindsets
  • Apply design thinking to formulating your understanding of your career vision
  • Create ideas for your career vision

This Week’s Career Journal Prompts

  • Habits Reflection
  • Start where you are
  • Define your needs, problems, and insights
  • Ideate: challenge assumptions
  • Prototype: start creating solutions
  • Test: create your career vision draft


Ideas here are adapted from Designing Your Life

This week we’re going to discuss how design thinking principles can be applied to your career development to help you discover your career vision.

Let’s start by first asking yourself this question: Why did you decide to pursue software development and come to Turing?

You might have a lot of answers that initially come to mind, and they probably all boil down to one thing: you weren’t happy. In whatever you were doing before this, you weren’t fulfilled, whether it was financially, intellectually, or otherwise. And in design thinking, this comes down to recognizing there is a problem and that we now need to seek a solution. Your solution goes from “what do I want to do?” to “who or what do I want to grow into?”

Last week, you discussed that your goal is to become a software developer. Now, we have to design a solution to get there.

First, let’s debunk a popular myth: if you know what you’re passionate about, you’ll be able to create a clear vision for your career. But the truth is that as many as 80% of people don’t know exactly what they’re passionate about as discovered by William Damon, director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence. Passion is not a finite idea that just exists. Instead, it’s something that can be developed. In fact, through design thinking principles, we can develop that passion here at Turing.

“A well-designed career is a career that is generative–it is constantly creative, productive, changing, evolving, and there is always the possibility of surprise.” -Designing Your Life.

Design Thinking

Design Thinking refers to specific steps used in product development. These are not the definitive steps, but the ones we’ll look at in regards to applying them to creating your career vision are:

  • Empathize with your user. In this case, your user is you. Spend time thinking about what you need whenever you’re designing a process to help you further your career.
  • Define your users’ needs, their problem, and your insights. Again, think about your needs and problem that you’re trying to solve and then strategize what resources you already have at your disposal.
  • Ideate by challenging assumptions and creating ideas for innovative solutions. Pay attention to when your fixed mindset comes into the picture and tells you that something won’t work. Push against that idea and reframe it by considering “what if?”
  • Prototype to start creating solutions. You have to try things in order to see if they’ll work!
  • Test solutions. Just as in software and product development, testing needs to be an important part of any design process, and when you’re designing a solution to starting this new career, you have to be open to trying things out and seeing what works for you.

Along with these five principles, there are also five mindsets that are crucial to taking this design thinking approach:

  • Curiosity. Be open to exploration. There isn’t one specific way your career can be – your vision should allow for growth, surprises, and fun!

  • Bias to action. You can’t have the career you want just by learning to code. You have to push yourself to try new things, and sometimes you’ll fail. But other times, you’ll discover something entirely new from what you thought you wanted. That’s part of this process!

  • Reframing. In order to be fully open to new ideas, it’s important to recognize when your thinking might be making you stuck. In order to get unstuck, reframing is a helpful technique to seeing new possibilities. This is how you can continuously check yourself to make sure you’re working on the right problems.

  • Awareness. Things will get messy and the path will not always be clear, and it’s important to be aware of how you feel at any given time. Designing your career will be a process.

  • Radical collaboration. This speaks to the important skill of asking for help. Just as in software development, collaborating and sharing ideas with others to get feedback and input will help you further your career vision rather than trying to go it alone. Lean on your cohortmates to share ideas and resources with each other. Career design is a team sport!

Applying Design Thinking Principles to Designing your Career

So, what does this look like when we apply it to the career transition you’re currently in?

  1. Start by empathizing with yourself. Where are you currently? We have to understand where we currently are in order to figure out what the next step is. Mindsets needed here are awareness and curiosity

  2. Then define your own needs, problem, and insights into that problem. Define what needs to happen in order to solve this problem of defining your career. Mindsets needed here are curiosity and reframing

  3. Then ideate by challenging assumptions you might already have about what it takes to get a career in software development and create new ideas to find innovative solutions for yourself. Mindsets needed here are curiosity and reframing

  4. Next, you need to prototype. You have to try things. This is that bias towards action mindset. You’ll also want to solicit ideas through radical collaboration from your peers, instructors, and career development team.

  5. Finally, you have to test your ideas to see what works. This is how you can continue to refine your vision. It will be iterative.

Step 1: Start Where You Are (Empathize)

A dysfunctional belief cited in the book that we often share is “I should already know where I’m going.” This is not a helpful mindset as it defeats the point of even trying to change where you are. Instead, reframe it: You can’t know where you’re going until you recognize where you are. This is where we start building on the work you’ve been doing this mod.

To review, we’ve discussed building your compass (a way to understand your general direction) through understanding the intersection of your strengths, workview, lifeview, social identity, and values. We’ve also looked at the habits you currently have and the ones you want to develop in order to achieve the identity you want to seek out – being a software developer. These things put together create additional direction for your career path. Now, let’s recognize where you are in this moment as a Turing student and career changer.

A way to do this is to reflect on four main areas of your “dashboard”:

  • Health. Thinking about your health provides the answer to “how are you?” Consider the intersection of your physical, mental, and emotional health right now.
  • Work. This is what you do. What you’re currently doing is learning and practicing software development. Consider how you create value in your work, for yourself, your teammates, your cohort, etc.
  • Play. When thinking about play, consider what brings you joy in your daily life right now. When do you achieve “flow” aka total engagement in your activities?
  • Love. This speaks to the sense of connection you feel between yourself and the world around you. Consider who are the people who matter in your life? How does love flow between you and them?

Your career journal prompts this week ask you to reflect on these four areas to reach that first step of understanding where you currently are. You’ll then work through the rest of the steps in the design process to come up with your first version of your career vision.