Do I know exactly where my career is going?

“Who am I? What are my strengths? Where do I want to go?”

These are all very existential questions, which for a thirty-year-old person to be pondering may seem a littlebelated! However, in the context of career path planning, they are fundamental to an MBA’s post-academic professional life. The importance of addressing these questions is underlined by the fact that our full time MBA class spend up to 20% of each week’s lecture time on personal and professional development.

Often we know what we are good at, what are our values and strengths, and how we interact with others, but it can be very difficult to articulate these succinctly and to tie it all into a package which aligns with a specific future career path. In my opinion, this is the most important output of my MBA experience: clarifying my future career wants.

The personal and professional development (PPD) course is broken down into separate workshops, and organised and facilitated by our super careers manager, Brian Marrinan. Not only does Brian bring a wealth of experience in recruitment and multi-industry knowledge, but he’s also a Corkonian and one of the tallest people I’ve ever met (when I asked him how tall he was, he answered, quote: “I stopped measuring myself ages ago”).

So what have we done so far?
In future blogs I intend to expand on my experiences of each workshop, but for the moment I’ll just outline the workshops’ subjects.

In terms of job seeking, there are extensive CV writing skills, industry information evenings and career “detection”. The importance of networking and personal effectiveness are emphasised throughout the course.

Additionally, the personal and career development planning, using tools such as 16PF, strength deployment inventory and leadership practice inventory have built an introspective knowledge of my own personality and career wants, which developed work I had previously done with the excellent Tina Kinirons.

This semester I’m looking forward to interview skills training and the continuation of my coaching sessions with the brilliant Barbara Patton.

What have I found out about myself?
Well, I’m an ESTJ panther who puts activator and relator among my strengths.

Admittedly it may sound like I spend an inordinate amount of time filling in Cosmo-type quizzes, but for me the exercises have been hugely beneficial in clarifying the environments in which I work best, and the impact I have on those around me.

Obviously no-one is going to tap me on the shoulder and present me with my perfect career path (although, if it were to happen…) so PPD is critical in helping me define my own future.

While I’m still finding my path, I feel confident that I am being provided with all the necessary tools and information to make the best career decisions for the future. The prospect of leaving Smurfit and battling the jobs market is daunting right now, but the PPD workshops have equipped me with focus, direction and the ability to clearly define my strengths and pursue a personally rewarding career.

Follow David‘s blogs for an overview of the Personal and Professional Development Course that MBA students undertake in UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.