Five Career Milestones to Work Toward

TSP • @myTSPnet


Think back to your first “real job.” Remember the nerves you had before the interview and your excitement when you got the job? Of all the other applicants, you were the one to come out on top. This was one of the first memorable moments that happened in your career and the first real career milestone that you experienced during your professional life.

Every person has a different career path that brings on different challenges, victories and milestones. Each milestone reached is worthy of celebration and recognition. While a promotion or raise may be the obvious milestone you work towards, there are other moments to be proud of. These can be any “firsts” in your career, like heading up your first solo project or joining your first professional association, and each one is as significant as the next.

But before you celebrate your milestone accomplishments, you have to know what those milestones are and set goals to get there. These goals will help keep you accountable in your day-to-day and drive you to produce the very best work possible. So where do you begin? By knowing what career milestones to strive for.

After months of searching for positions, applying and interviewing, landing a full-time job is the first of many milestones during your career. It’s a completely new environment and is a significant adjustment. Knowing what to expect can be intimidating, but being prepared will ease the transition.

Your first job brings a lot of possibility and excitement. It will set you up for all your future endeavors and help you start establishing your professional network. By viewing and treating your first job as such, you will position yourself to be more successful as you start to climb the career ladder.

Speaking formally in front of your boss, coworkers or a client requires work and preparation. Public speaking in itself is daunting, but following these tips can calm your nerves. If your boss asks you to put together a presentation, it shows they believe you are capable of doing so successfully. This is an opportunity to earn their trust and showcase your unique knowledge or insights. If done so correctly, your first formal presentation can take you one step closer to a promotion and prove you are capable of being a leader within the company.

This milestone marks a new chapter in your professional career. Managing a project shows you are willing and ready to take on a leadership position within your company. Project management requires working with other team members, delegating and reviewing work to ensure success. This is truly an opportunity to show the boss your reliability and your willingness to take on responsibility.

In addition to showing your leadership qualities, project management allows you to demonstrate your work ethic and knowledge of said project. You can be thorough in completing the project, ensuring every part is done to the highest standards, showcasing your talents and work ethic.

It can be difficult to state your opinion when you anticipate it will be met with resistance and uncertainty. However, there will be times when this unpopular opinion should be voiced. Why is this a milestone? It shows you aren’t afraid to be honest and bold — two qualities that will help to establish yourself as a leader. Speaking up in a respectful and inquisitive way can create new questions and differentiate yourself from your peers.

Plus, your opinion may not be as unpopular as you think. Have you ever heard the phrase pluralistic ignorance? In this situation, your coworkers may not agree with an idea or statement, but go along with it anyway because they believe the rest of the team is in favor. If you're hesitant to share your opinion, try asking a clarifying question before such as, “what did you mean by…” or “can you give an example of…” to gather more information before speaking up.

All of your hard work and dedication are often culminated in a promotion or raise. In this moment, you will receive a sense of satisfaction knowing your boss has seen your work at its best and is rewarding you in return. While you should most certainly take the time to celebrate this moment with friends and family, you should also take this time to reflect on your path to this point and what comes next.

It’s true, a lot of the major career milestones occur early on in life. However, there is always room for growth at any stage in your career. Though it’s hard to control things such as when you will give a presentation or go on a business trip, you can make a timeline for when you’d like to reach these achievements. Taking the time to think on what you want in life and when you’d like to get there will set you on the path towards continuous success.