Career Goals – Expectations vs. Reality

I’ve met so many people who have unrealistic career expectations, that I’ve decided to summarize the 4 most common career goals that do not exactly match the expectations.

1. Land a job In the IT industry and make mad money

career goals

The sector is fast-moving and dynamic, and generates a lot of job opportunities. There is a huge demand for IT specialists worldwide. You will definitely find an IT job but don’t expect to make that much money in the beginning if you don’t have any experience.

I know people who after taking only a 3-months programming course get confident they know it all. To become a good and well-paid developer, it takes persistence and a lot of practice. To be considered a senior developer, you will need at least 4 or more years of experience, depending on the language you use. There is a huge difference in the results that a junior and a senior developer deliver, therefore there is a huge difference in the pay. A programming course will give you the basics, but you will need to develop many more valuable skills like being able to make effort and time delivery estimations, to learn to apply the most efficient solution, to guide the less experienced, to think of the big picture. You will acquire all these skills from your work experience. Once you reach that senior level, then indeed you will make really good money.

Apart from it, I have noticed that people don’t have a clear idea what is like to work in the IT industry. They’ve just heard that an IT specialist is a high-paying job. I usually compare the IT industry with medicine. There are so many different types of doctors, each one dealing with a completely different health issue. In the same way, there are so many different types of IT specialists. When planning your career in the IT industry, make a research on the different career paths. Take into account the most demanded skills and the jobs of the future. The IT industry is fast-moving and what is trending today, can be out-of-date in a few months. There is no point to invest time in learning a technology that is expected to disappear soon.

2. Become a team lead/manager and make mad money

career goals

Being promoted to a manager position is a logical step in the career development. However, being a team lead or a manager doesn’t mean only more power and more money. It comes with more responsibilities and stress. The manager is responsible not only for his/her own work but for the work of the people who he/she manages as well. The team leader is supposed to coordinate the team, to give tasks to the people, to solve conflicts, to find solutions to issues no one can solve, to handle all the personal inquiries like sick leaves, holidays, complaints, etc. Managing a team involves a lot of not that exciting administration work like filling spreadsheets, preparation of presentations and reports, attending a lot of useless meetings. While a non-manager employee usually works within the agreed working hours, the manager has to be available all the time and be ready to react if something unpredictable pops up. Even though it has its cons, s being promoted into a team lead or a manager is still a common career goal and it is considered appreciation for the hard work of the employee. If you have good organizational and interpersonal skills, and you can handle stress well, go for the managing position.

3. Become a freelancer, travel the world, work from the beach, and make mad money

Freelancing is often portrayed as having plenty of free time, traveling the world, and making a lot of money. Actually, freelancing is a lot of insecurities and stress. Freelancers make money as long as they work. They don’t have paid sick days or paid holidays. If they don’t work, they don’t make money. Not having a regular income is stressful and daunting. If this month a freelancer has made 2000 dollars, it is completely possible the next month to make only 200 dollars.

Being good in your area doesn’t make you a good freelancer. You need to have a set of skills that are the required in order to achieve success as a freelancer. You need to have research, marketing, and sales skills. Since you will be working on your own, you will have to find customers, to negotiate the conditions, and deliver the work all by yourself. If you work for a company, you can rely on your colleague to support you. When you start freelancing, there is no one to rely on. You will have to expand your skills to the point that you will be able to close the cycle from finding a customer to completing successfully the job. Indeed, you decide when and how much to work, but most likely you will work long hours in search of new customers and projects. Apart from it, you will have to decide your rate per hour. You will have to overcome the feeling that you charge too much but you should make sure that what you earn will cover all your expenses, taxes, health insurance, and still to make a profit.

Once I found a temporary freelance job for a man. He was really excited because he was making good money working only a few hours per day. After the job was completed, he couldn’t find a new customer for a long time, and that stressed him out. He couldn’t enjoy his free time because he didn’t have any income. Freelancing is on the rise worldwide but not everybody is prepared to be successful.

4. Start a business and make mad money

Having a successful business, change the world, and be rich is a common dream of many people. These days we hear so many stories about ambitious individuals in their 20s, sometimes even younger, who succeed. We read all the time about startups getting investments of a few million dollars. It seems too easy and straightforward to become the next successful entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur is everything else but easy. Being an entrepreneur is not a job. It is a lifestyle. Don’t think you will work a few hours per day and enjoy plenty of free time. Don’t think you will become rich overnight. Same as being a freelancer, you will have to dedicate long hours, you will have to develop new skills, you will have to find the right people to work with. However, entrepreneurs enjoy the journey, no matter how hard it can be. You cannot be a successful entrepreneur if you are not passionate about your business. When you love what you do, you don’t think of it as a job.

The beginning usually is really tough till you set the fundamentals of your business. You will have to deal with the negativity of people who don’t believe in your idea. Usually, those people are your own friends and family. You will have to struggle with all sort of problems you haven’t had to deal with before. It is a long and enriching journey. But at the end, even if you don’t build the next big company, you will still have learned so many things that will help you in any other career, or even in your personal life.

 

There are so many career opportunities out there that if you do something you don’t like, it is all your fault. Take your time to evaluate the different options. Be prepared for the good and for the bad times. Make a plan and start working on it, and eventually, you will achieve your career goal.

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