Career Strategy For Our Youth

What could be more important than setting our youth up for success in life?  I would argue that “career strategy” is just as important for our youth than it is for us who are working professionals. Making a transition from high school to the next phase of a young person’s learning journey can be a big step and one that influences the rest of our life.  The people we meet, the content we learn and the experiences we live.  But how much “career strategy” is really discussed at this early phase in life?  I have a hypothesis that many of the principles of the Career Strategy Framework could help young men and woman pursue their passions and identify the best learning environment for them to excel.

I am always astonished when I hear the stories of kids who finished four years of college and are not sure what to do now or discover that there is not a market for their knowledge.  Did kids pursue their passions or their parent’s interests and goals for them? Did they even think about who they are and want to become before spending thousands of dollars and four years of their life?  I am not saying that young people need to have all of the answers in life but understanding their core interests and what makes this tick is critical to getting off to a great start in post-secondary education.

It’s been many years since I went off to college with little guidance on how best to pursue my passions and develop the required set of competencies for career success.  Much of my experience was self-learned through trial and error.  Even in my graduate MBA studies there was minimal career strategy even though we went deep into strategy, market analysis and leadership.   Career strategy should be practiced leading up to college and during college to prepare for the next “learning” opportunity in the real world.  As a father of five with two preparing for college you could say I am about to “eat my own dogfood” as we say at Microsoft.

It all starts with the “Know” process and people understanding their interests, passions and learning styles that will form the foundation for setting a direction.  All of my kids are different and I know I will need to take dedicated time to help them to explore their personal profile.  They have different interests, learning styles and strengths.  Discussing the potential job market now and thinking about what skills that will be required down the road will shape the “target market” and the development plan (e.g. college courses).

“Each day of your life much be guided by passions and critical success factors for realizing life’s purpose”

Graphic Artist: Patrick Gray

I encourage those with teenagers who are preparing for college to review the Framework Overview and Know processes for the questions and ideas that I hope will open up your minds to shape career strategy for our young men and women.

I took an important step over the last few weeks with my son by listening to his core interests, discussing future career ideas and visiting a college that will be in harmony with his learning styles.  He is learning how to “sell” his style and market his talents for taking the next important step in his life next year.  As a parent I know I will be an important asset to helping him plan and support his direction.   Invest in “career strategy” with our youth and let the creative energy flow!

Career Strategy Framework

My name is James Gray and the “Career Strategy Framework” is a a synthesis of my work experiences, MBA studies and research to maximize life happiness and career impact.  This topic is an intersection of my passions including strategy, marketing, management and analytics.  I developed the framework back in 2006 as I planned for a career transition and have refined it over the years as a manager at Microsoft.  I was driven to architect a career planning process that was intentional, practical and one that took a holistic to approach to not only my career but was integrated into other aspects of my life.  There are many deep topics and theories on career planning and strategy but I never found an approach that pulled together all of the pieces to plan and execute a career.  I found myself taking personal assessments and creating development plans in disjointed manner.  The 5 strategies represent a “framework” or model that can be used as a lens and process to create and refine your personal career strategy.   Over the years I have called it a framework because it’s always under refinement and when I find new concepts from thought leaders I find a what to plug into the career strategy model.

The aspiration of this website is to share the framework and best practices to help people maximize happiness and realize a fulfilling career.  My hope is that it inspires curiousity about the life you live and optimizes fulfillment at the workplace and beyond.  The framework does not guarantee success but it will take you on journey to deeply learn about who you are, what you want in life and and how to get there.  Many of the concepts are not new but the framework integrates five strategies into simple and intentional way to approach your career lifecycle.  I share my applied examples and the best practices from other thought leaders on this topic.

You can reference the Career Strategy Framework overview and the detailed content on the Know, Target, Roadmap, Develop and Sell strategies.  My blog posts are also categorized by these same topics and provide additional examples and ideas beyond the written content.  Over the years I have learned more about myself and how to enrich the Career Strategy Framework through presentations and helping fellow colleagues apply this framework to their careers.  I hope that you will share your best practices to inpsire others to maximize happiness and career impact.

Over the last year colleagues have suggested I write a book but after I thought about it more it was clear that most of the value comes from a community where we can learn from and inspire each other.   My vision is a framework where others can contribute to, evolve and apply it in a way that I have never imagined.   I have integrated this website into the Facebook Platform to enable a sense of “community” and I hope that you will share your best practices to inspire others to maximize happiness and career impact.  You can also follow this topic on Twitter (@CareerFramework) and connect on the Career Strategy Framework Community Facebook Page.

May each day bring you the happiness you aspire for.