Career Plan and Vita

Preparing a career plan is an important task. A well-crafted career plan will help you establish appropriately targeted objectives and daily action objectives. Progress will be much more likely if you go about this process in an organized manner. A curriculum vitae or resume is the paper document that presents you to prospective employers and academic institutions. A career plan and vita are important tools in the search for graduate school or careers.

A)       Write a Career Plan:

1           A mission statement and objectives are important parts of your career plan. They help in two main ways:

a)      To concentrate your efforts (rowing harder does not help if your boat is headed in the wrong direction)

b)      To concentrate attention on problems to be solved (problem-solving is finding ways to get you from where you are to where you want to be)

2           In your career plan you should state your long-term (5+ years) goal. For example:

a)      Become a licensed school psychologist (This goal requires that you attend graduate school and earn a Ph.D. degree.) or,

b)      Work as a social services counselor for adolescents at risk. (This goal can be accomplished with a B.A. in Psychology.) or,

c)      Become a board certified counselor. (This goal requires that you attend graduate school and earn a Masterís degree in counseling and pass state and national counseling certification exams.)

3           In your career plan you should list short-term goals to achieve over the next 12 to 18 months. These are your strategic goals. Finding your strategic goals may involve some research. It is a good idea to find and interview a couple of school psychologists and ask them what steps they had to take to accomplish their goals.  Also, find out what the requirements are for licensure from the state licensing board and from the graduate school. For example, in order to achieve the goal of becoming a school psychologist, the following strategic goals would be appropriate:

a)      Be accepted into a couple of schools/universities that have strong school psychology programs. (This involves research)

b)      Resolve any financial details for how you will pay for the opportunity costs of attending graduate school.  For instance, make sure you have a research or teaching assistantship that will pay for tuition and provide a stipend.  Figure out how much it will cost to survive while you are attending school. Most doctoral programs will not admit students who do not intend on working full time toward the degree and most prohibit you from having a job outside of your assistantship.

c)      Find a suitable short-term job that feeds you while you are working on your goals.

4           Finally, your career plan should list the sub-goals necessary to accomplish your strategic goals. These become the basis for your daily action plans.

a)      Apply for admission to 5 schools/universities that have strong school psychology programs.

b)      Earn a score on the Graduate Record Exam that will support your admission to a good graduate program.

c)      Explore alternative pathways into graduate school if in case you are not successful getting in immediately.

5           While not a part of your career plan, each of the sub-goals listed above should be further broken down into daily action plan steps that you can accomplish immediately. The process of getting into a doctoral program or finding a career that satisfies you involves a good solid plan with strategic goals, sub-goals, and detailed daily action plans. You can accomplish anything if you can organize the path. And thatís the key to getting anywhere. If you donít have a long-term goal, none of the other goal planning can happen. You will have no objectives and you will be aimless. This isnít necessarily a bad thing. Most of the population is aimless. It is the ones who are not that run the show.

Preparing a Vita

  1. In preparing a Vita or Resumeí the first question you need to ask is, what do I want the vita to do?  In general, a Curriculum Vita, also known as a Vita, or CV, is an academic resume. The difference between a vita and a resume is that a vita is an accounting of your academic accomplishments. You would use the vita to present your credentials for an academic position as a teacher or researcher. It is important to begin building a vita early in your academic career.

  2. The Vita is the paper that introduces you to whom it may concern in the academic community.  The vita tells the story of your academic preparation and work.  The structure of your vita will vary depending your intentions. Your vita should be prepared to help you get into graduate school and to apply for jobs in the academy.  The first jobs that you will likely apply for will be Research Assistantships or Teaching Assistantships. These are considered honors and awards. They are awarded to students in high standing and they pay for tuition as well as provide a monthly stipend. 

  3. The Resume is the paper that introduces you to an employer in the public sector.  On this document you list your work experience and the skills you have attained and used. The resume, like the Vita, is also targeted to the position you are seeking.

Information and help on Resume preparation is available through the Career Center in Saint Clair ground floor. If you intend on going to graduate school, it is a good idea to prepare a vita and a resume. You will need both.