Creating Your Career Vision, Part II

Slides for the session

Learning Goals

  • Apply design thinking principles to use beginner’s mind in approaching your career visions
  • Utilize new tools for building your career compass
  • Refine your career vision statement

This Week’s Career Journal Prompts

  • Reflect on your habits
  • Reflect on the use of Beginner’s Mind
  • Flower Exercise
  • Write a refined vision statement

Review: Design Thinking

Last week, we introduced the idea of design thinking as it applies to designing your career. An important piece of using design thinking here is utilizing curiosity and reframing. You’ll have a lot of impostor syndrome-type thoughts that come into play when you’re designing your career; thoughts like “is this realistic? Shouldn’t I just look for any job that will have me?” Thinking like that doesn’t allow for the things that actually matter to you in your career to come forward, so it’s important to stay curious to the possibilities of what you do want rather than what you can settle for and reframe these thoughts into something useful:

  • Instead of “I’ll take the first job I can get” reframe this thought to something like “Discovering what I want will let me find the jobs that match.”

This can be easier said than done. Luckily, there are some tools we can utilize to help us cultivate the idea of beginner’s mind and get ourselves unstuck from assumptions.

Start by reading these articles:

Put It Into Practice

Try out this concept of beginner’s mind by reframing some fixed mindset beliefs and assumptions about careers. Start by taking the following beliefs about careers and reframe them into something more actionable:

  • “I don’t know enough yet to start thinking about my job search”
  • “I’m not sure if I have the right vision”
  • “I might not be able to find the right job”

Questions to consider as you’re thinking about each statement

  • What assumptions is this initial statement making?
  • What are some ways you could think about this topic differently?
  • How could you reframe this into a new statement that takes into account additional possibilities?

Add to your Compass: Using the Flower Exercise

In Week 2, we discussed the idea of building a compass to address these ideas:

  • Fixed mindset: “I should already know where I’m going.”
  • Reframe: “I won’t always know where I’m going, but I can always know if I’m going in the right direction.”

Today we’ll talk about the steps you can take to make sure that you continue building those feelings of excitement and passion in your new career as a software developer. After all, you’re making this career transition because you weren’t happy in your last job – let’s make sure that your happiness is front and center in your new career. This relates directly to our mission at Turing as we strive for all students to succeed in high-fulfillment technical careers.

We’ll utilize a job-hunting strategy from What Color is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles to unpack your values, goals, and passions to make this job search your most successful and satisfying.

Flower Exercise: What It Is

When people have asked you what you do in the past, what have you said?

Examples: “I was a construction worker.” “I was a marketing manager.” “I was a teacher.” Sound familiar? These kind of declarations are not inherently wrong – it’s important to claim your identity according to the work you love.

However, stating your identity in this way can lock you into a role; but you’re not a role, you’re a person with many skills and many experiences.

Instead, try saying “I’m a person who…”

  • “I’m a person who…is skilled at building things.”
  • “I’m a person who…has experience in creating stories to attract customers.”
  • “I’m a person who…knows how to explain concepts to others in smaller pieces.”

The Flower Exercise asks you to think about yourself through 7 different angles to discover what you want as you start looking for a job. Because you are not just a software developer now, you are a person who has very specific skills, talents, experience, and goals that make you so much more than just a software developer.

The Flower Exercise is designed to help you move through 3 stages:

  • The brain dump stage to organize your thoughts using these worksheets
  • The synthesis stage to summarize the findings in your brain dump
  • The prioritization stage to narrow down what’s most important to you from your synthesis onto this final worksheet. Please link this sheet into your career journal this week.

The Seven Petals

I am a person who…has 7 sides to me:

  1. Describe who you are in terms of what you know (favorite knowledges and/or fields of interest)
    • Examples: teaching, writing, providing services to others, etc.
  2. Describe who you are in terms of the kinds of people you most prefer to work with and/or the kinds of people you would most like to serve
    • Examples:
      • Work with: Creative people; collaborative teams
      • Serve: People from a certain geographical area; people with certain needs, etc.
  3. Describe who you are in terms of what you can do and what your favorite functional/transferable skills are
    • Examples: Project management skills; mentoring/teaching
  4. Describe who you are in terms of your favorite working conditions
    • Examples: small company/large company/start-up; remote/in-person
  5. Describe who you are in terms of your preferred salary and level of responsibility
    • Examples: working by yourself vs. member of a team vs. supervising others vs. running your own business
  6. Describe who you are in terms of your preferred geographical location or surroundings
    • Examples: here or abroad; warm/cold, north/south, east/west, mountains/coast, urban/suburban/rural/rustic – where would you be happiest, do your best work, and would most like to live?
  7. Describe who you are in terms of your goals or sense of mission and purpose for your life. Or the goals/mission you want the organization to have where you decide to work

All 7 aspects are important for your job search; Why?

  • If a job only matches 1 or 2 “petals,” it will not be fulfilling to you because it will only allow you to express one or two sides of yourself
  • This picture is the most complete of you and defining these aspects will lead you to your dream job

Another Note: Pairin

Reminder that your Pairin survey results measured how you work, and from here, you can analyze a lot about what’s important to you in your new career. Look at your results to think about:

  1. Your Top Thinking Style: how you like to work
  2. Your Most Intense Driver: what motivates you the most
  3. Your Highest EQ Competency: your mindsets and abilities
  4. Your Leading Virtue Class: what you value

Consider: how do each of these categories help define your ideal career?

Step 1: Brainstorming

For each of the “petals” below, complete the corresponding worksheets to fulfill the brainstorming stages of the Flower Exercise.

  • Petal #1: Favorite Knowledges And/Or Fields of Interest
    • Goal: Summarize everything you know; Must have: knowledge from past experiences; Bonus: What you would like to learn
    • Tips: Think of your knowledge as nouns, not traits
    • For brainstorming, use worksheet #1:
      • What you know from the past: go through everything you know; if you worked at a restaurant, this could mean you list “learned how to prepare and serve food, how to wait on customers, how to make change, how to deal with complaints, how to train new employees, etc.” Then go back and highlight the most important pieces to you – which are you most satisfied with?
      • What you know outside of work: what knowledge have you picked up outside of work?
    • Examples: Things learned in high school/college that you still value today; anything from training seminars, conferences, etc.; anything you learned at home or via the internet
    • What industries sound interesting to you: start broadly and then make more specific
    • Anything else you want to learn
  • Petal #2: Preferred Kinds of People to Work With
    • What does this mean? People we work with either give us energy or drain our energy. They’re very important to how we work.
    • Goal: To avoid past bad experiences with people at work, focus on the people you most like to work with
    • Think About:
        1. What kind of people surrounding you at work will enable you to operate at your highest and most effective level.
        1. What kind of people you would most like to serve or help: defined by problems, geography, etc.
    • Tips: These are descriptions – adjectives
    • For brainstorming, use worksheets #2 and #3:
      1. List the places you’ve worked and the people from those places that helped you do your best and those that hindered you along with the people you want to build software for in the future
      2. Party Game Exercise: Looking at the graphic for the party, answer these questions by writing down the letter:
        • Which corner of the room would you be drawn to as the group of people you’d want to be around longest? * 15 mins. later, everyone in that corner leaves for another party, except you. Of the groups that remain, which group would you be drawn to now? * 15 mins. later, this group also leaves. Of the remaining groups, which do you join?
  • Petal #3: Transferable Skills
    • Goal: Discover what your transferable skills are by breaking them down into 3 groups:
      • People skills
      • Skills with data
      • Skills with things – your talents, etc.
    • How do you do this? Start by telling a story about yourself when you’ve worked to accomplish a goal in the past. It doesn’t have to be a goal related to a specific job you had. Start by detailing the steps you took to accomplish that goal and then outline what skills were used here.
    • Examples: Richard Bolles, the author of What Color is your Parachute?, had a goal to take his family on a vacation. The challenge was that he didn’t have a lot of money to spend on hotels, so he decided to rig his family station wagon into a camper (keep in mind: this was the 1970s). He didn’t know how to do that, so he started with some research. He researched the materials and tools he would need, drew up plans, measured and cut materials, and began to build the camper. He was successful in building the camper and in taking this family on the vacation. He estimated that he saved over $1200 by not staying in hotels, and by today’s standards, that number would have been much higher. He broke down the skills he used to accomplish this goal:
      • Research
      • Visualization
      • Planning
      • Design
      • Engineering
      • Construction
      • Follow-through
    • How to brainstorm for this:
      • Using worksheets #4-7, write out a story (or more – the book recommends 7 so that you can look at patterns of your transferable skills) about a time you accomplished a particular goal.
      • Then go through and analyze the particular skills you used with the checklist provided
      • In the space on worksheet #7, write out a sentence detailing why you’re good at your top 10 skills
  • Petal #4: Preferred Working Conditions
    • Goal: State the working conditions and culture that would make you happiest and enable you to do your most effective work
    • Tip: Make these statements very specific
    • Good example: Clear diversity and inclusion initiatives, flexible hours with work from home option, regular pairing with a senior dev, team-oriented, encourages asking questions
    • Bad Example: Understanding boss, good colleagues, fun
    • For brainstorming, use worksheet #8 to detail the places you’ve worked before, what you liked and disliked about those places, including ranking them
      • You can also use the Key Values Culture Queries quiz to help you get more specific with your language and figure out how to ask about these things in both coffee meetings and interviews
      • It’s also recommended that you look back over your Pairin results to think about how these can help you understand what kind of cultures and values you’re looking for.
  • Petal #5: Salary & Level of Responsibility
    • Goal: Gain a realistic picture of how much money you will need or want to earn in your next job as well as your understanding of how much responsibility you want to strive for in your new career.
    • Tip: Think about salary in terms of a range.
    • For brainstorming, use worksheet #9. A couple things to keep in mind: * Median starting salary for Turing grads is $77,750
    • Use the Stack Overflow Salary Calculator to help narrow down ranges. Put in “bachelor’s degree” as equivalent for your Turing education.
  • Petal #6: Preferred place to live
    • Goal: Define where you would most like to work and live to be happiest
    • Important to think about the future now in order to see what opportunities you’re ultimately open to. Reminder that most first jobs as a software developer will last only for 1-2 years, so you could move somewhere else for a job and then come back to Denver afterwards
    • For brainstorming, use worksheet #10, which contains questions for you to consider about places you’re open to and those you definitely aren’t. There are also some quizzes you can use to see what areas you might appreciate that you hadn’t thought of before.
  • Petal #7: Goal/Purpose/Mission in life
    • Goal: Define the values and goals by which you will continue to guide your life in order to analyze the kinds of companies you’d like to work for or types of projects you’d like to create
    • For brainstorming, use worksheets #11-13

Step 2: Synthesize

Now that you’ve taken time to brainstorm on each of the petals, synthesize your priorites by asking yourself these questions:

  • What did you discover about yourself and your ideal career in this exercise?
  • Did anything surprise you?
  • How will you use this information to drive your job search?
  • What do you still want to learn from this process?

Step 3: Prioritize

In this final step, you should apply your highest priorities to the final Flower Exercise worksheet. Remember to link this into your career journal and use this as inspiration to write out your career vision statement.

Wrapping Up

This exercise will bring up a lot of things to think about. It’s important to take some time to reflect afterwards:

  • What have you learned about yourself through this process?
  • How will you apply this exercise to your job search?

Remember that you can schedule a coaching session with Allison or another member of the career development team to talk through your discoveries to help you begin to narrow the scope of your job search.