Depending on your disposition, you may define success as the product of opportunity and ambition, opportunity and talent or even opportunity and plain old hard work. No matter what, opportunity is always a part of the equation.
A great opportunity is one that matches the values you have today and helps you nurture the skills you want to have tomorrow – a process that requires an investment in personal development, supported by coaching and feedback.
In short, learning never stops.
Finding the right opportunities
Rehana Ciriani is the Director of RBC’s Career Launch Program. She stresses the importance of taking ownership of your personal career development through actively seeking experiences that build your knowledge.
As you’re planning and beginning your career, it’s important to recognize that learning is a lifelong process, not one that ends when you finish your degree or diploma, she says.
“Your personal and professional growth is unique to you. Be mindful that it can take many forms including on the job learning that includes coaching and feedback and more formal approaches like instructor-led programs and professional designations.”
Once you enter the professional world, you won’t always have the structure of a classroom and you’ll constantly be exposed to new situations that build skills. These can be some of the most durable and important learning experiences for an individual.
“Every experience in the workplace is an opportunity for development and to broaden your knowledge,” Rehana says, “whether it’s learning how you can use a different approach to get a project done, or learning how to gain consensus to achieve faster decision making.”
A first employment experience can launch your career, so it’s important to ensure that you enter your first job ready to proactively identify, build a personal plan, and explore opportunities for work-relevant skills development, Rehana explains.
Outside of work, it will be up to you to identify skill-building opportunities that could boost your career, she explains, whether it’s through reading and research, networking, attending conferences or other avenues.
Making a commitment to learning and development doesn’t end with training an employee for a specific role, Rehana says – it’s an ongoing process for both employer and employee.
Coaching & mentoring
Rehana says that a strong work environment includes coaching and mentoring as a part of learning and development.
“There are always opportunities to develop professionally in an environment where talented people from different backgrounds and diverse experiences come together,” she explains.
“The opportunity to develop expertise within a role through coaching and feedback is critical.”
“We know that it’s important for recent grads to gain experience in an environment that helps them reach their full potential,” Rehana says, “and critical to this is coaching and mentorship and the opportunity to be part of a community and network with seasoned and aspiring professionals.”
A coach or mentor can be someone with years of experience in a particular role, or someone who understands your position based on first-hand experience.
In either case, the right coach can help you adjust to the challenges of a new environment and can be invaluable in providing professional and personal guidance and direction. They can also be a valuable part of your professional network, as they’ll be well-positioned to comment on your work as you explore future career opportunities.
Internships can offer great value and ability to understand the world of work today. By working in one or possibly several different departments, interns can get a better sense of the organizational culture, how various business teams interact, how work gets done and their role within the whole system, says Rehana. This kind of experience may also help identify some opportunities for career or skill growth for the future.
As you reflect on your personal situation and think about your own development plan, explore the information and resources already available to you to support your development and to help you achieve your personal and professional goals.