By Michele Rafferty - 16th September, 2022
The Career Toolkit Workshop, fourth part in the Career Curves series hosted by the MIT Club of New York and moderated by Melissa Marsh, featured CTO, cybersecurity expert, author and MIT instructor Mark Hershberg, who discussed career tactics he’s developed while serving as CTO of start-ups and working with Fortune 500 companies and a venture capital fund. His ultimate goal was to help attendees have a clearer picture of their career goals and next steps.
Much of his workshop drew from the first chapters of his book, The Career Toolkit: Essential Skills for Success that No One Taught You. According to Herschberg, everyone needs a career plan—”a set of guidelines, values, actions, and goals.” Guidelines are based on both practical and ethical considerations and help you understand what you’re willing to do, and not do, to reach your goals.
Factors to consider in creating a career plan: do you want to work 40 hours a week or are you comfortable working more? Launching a startup will undoubtedly require longer hours. Where do you want to live, and is it possible to meet your career goals in that place? How might your guidelines change over time? At 25, you may be happy to be on the road 50 percent of the time, but by 45, you may crave more stability. Plan your career around the sort of life you want to live.
“Get input from others, your manager…HR…your peers, your friends, your mentors, other MIT alumni, going to webinars and seminars…listening to podcasts, reading articles,” Herschberg suggested.
Over time, different options open and close, and being conscious of this is critical. Taking one path might lead you in a direction where you settle into a position but there’s not really any room for advancement.
“Reset buttons” are a key part of Herschberg’s toolkit. These are choices you make that change your career path, such as going to law school or obtaining an MBA.
You have to work your way up to more ambitious goals. If you ultimately want to manage 100 people, you may have to start by managing a dozen. Setting benchmarks along the way can help you get there.
“Don’t forget to reflect on when you’re headed,” Herschberg said. Personality assessments like Myers Briggs, the Herrmann Brain Dominance instruments, or the five factor Clifton Strengths model can help you become more intentional about your actions. Identifying your preferences and identifying what it is you need to improve to meet your goals are equally important.
It’s also important to assess your progress every 6-12 months, to make sure that what you’ve been doing aligns with your career needs. Even if you’re just transferring from one department to another, you need to make sure that move facilitates your career growth according to your plan.
You’ll have choices to make: higher compensation vs. a job with more room for growth, breadth vs. depth in the types of skills you develop, whether your goal is to be a team player or to become a leader. The free Career Toolkit App or the upcoming app (in beta, out in Sept) Brain Bump app may be able to help you wrestle with these decisions.
“Remember, even a bad plan is better than no plan at all…Don't worry about being perfect. Get a plan going,” Herschberg said, in conclusion.