In developing a career plan you have many options from creating a formal plan to using tools such as mind maps to organize the skills and knowledge you would like to develop. It is important to have your own plan to ensure you are progressing in your career. In the September 2013 edition of Tea-time With Testers I wrote an article called: Prepare for Promotion Now! It was part of a special edition: Women in Testing. In preparing for a future promotion you need to understand where the company is headed and continue to develop your skills to be ready for future opportunities.
Recently, I was promoted to Director, Quality Management Programs. In this position I will be continue to oversee the strategic direction and leadership of the Software Testing department. In addition I will oversee and implement a quality management system and participate in company-wide quality initiatives and programs. I was in the right place at the right time and over the years I continued my formal education while progressing my skills and knowledge. When I review how my career has progressed over the years it all came together for this promotion fulfilling a new need in the organization. Often sacrifices need to be made to prepare for your future career. When returning to college for my Masters in Strategic Leadership, I went to college full-time and worked full-time. My weeks were about 70-80 hours during this time period. Over the years I continued my professional development through social networking, books, blogs, webinars, and training seminars. Social networking opens up a lot of opportunities for interacting with experts throughout the world regarding different subject matters. Plus I look for new opportunities at work to take on additional responsibility or incorporate what I am learning to how we work. I have never been concerned about working a 40-hour week as I believe we each make life choices on how we use our time.
I tend to have a vision for my life that I discussed in my New Years posting. The below mind map is an example on how you can define your vision, goals, actions, and how you will be accountable. Developing a plan can be easy; however making progress can be difficult. Be sure to identify the gaps in skills and knowledge you are trying to bridge to help with knowing if you are making progress. Then identify a discipline method to review your progress to determine your next steps. You could have a second mind map or just add more nodes to your planning map to document your progress. For example you could add the date when you attended the Rapid Testing Intensive course by James Bach.
Best wishes with your career planning! In future postings I will share other tools for career development. If you want more information on mind mapping see my posting An Introduction to Mind Maps and Testing. See my previous posting on Ideas and Approaches on Developing a Career Plan and if you review my blog you will find more postings on leadership and career development. Plus stay tuned for future postings!!