The one thing I know about myself is that I hate introspection. So, fair warning, this will be a mopey and self-indulgent post.
As part of my MSc, I have to create and discuss my Personal Development Plan in relation to my Career and I'm… stumped!
I've never known what I wanted to be when I grow up. Sure, vague dreams of being a starship pilot (unlikely) or an actor (failed) - but other than that? Just… I dunno. Computers?
My "career" so far has been drifting from gig to gig going "Oh, that looks interesting, I'll try that." Or, sometimes, having a friend say "Hey! You should come work for us." To which I say "Sure, why not."
I'm not quite at the Spın̈al Tap levels of drifting, but I'm not far.
If I was, say, an Accountant - there would be a defined career path. Pass exams. Get chartered. Manage a team. Do more, harder exams. Make partner. Run the firm. I guess, I don't really know what accountants do. Same with Zookeeper - there's a variety of paths which lead up to a bunch of interesting zoo-based jobs.
But me? I don't really know what my job is. I'm not on any particular career track. What's the next thing for people like me?
Without wishing to boast (OK, a little bit boasty) I think I'm at a good local maxima. I contribute to solving interesting problems. I occasionally get to brief senior politicians and civil servants. I'm respected in my field and get asked to speak at events about my experience and expertise. I'm at the top of my pay band. I rarely take work home with me.
On a personal level, I'm married, own a house, have a decent pension, a range of hobbies, and some nice friends. I'd like a cat - but my wife isn't keen.
I know what I don't want to do with my career:
- Manage people. I don't want to sign off your timesheets and I'm in no position to help others develop.
- Organise budgets. I just have no interest in how or where money is spent.
- Work too hard. I laugh at those people who are "crushing it" 996. There's more to life than work.
- Commute regularly. I used to do 2 hours each way. Now, even a 30 minute train ride feels like an imposition.
- Make other people rich. I've worked for large corporates and small start-up. Even with shares, options, and equity, it always felt like the sweat of my brow only feathered someone else's nest.
Things I want to do:
- Make things better. I wouldn't work for, say, an arms company. I want to work on something meaningful and useful.
- Work with nice people. I don't go to work to make friends. But I don't want to be surrounded by arseholes all day.
- Earn a lot of money. I live in a capitalist system. I need to feed myself and prepare for leaner years.
- Tackle interesting problems. I don't care about, say, the plight of abandoned donkeys.
- Retire early. Honestly, my plan is to go into flexible retirement in about 8 years. I won't quite be at FIRE, but close enough that I can survive on picking things up here and there.
I think that can all be summed up by saying I'm not career driven. I'm doing an MSc because I thought it would be interesting. The sort of jobs I'm interested in generally say "educated to Masters level or equivalent experience". So I don't think I need it for my next role.
I'm not aware of any deficiencies in my work which require remedial training. And I don't see any future jobs which require a specific qualification.
How do I write out a personal development plan which says "do interesting stuff"?
Future Professional Goals
I have half an eye on this Professional Doctorate in Data Science. Again, mostly because I think it looks interesting and I'm vain enough to want to be a doctor. I don't know what I would do with the qualification - nor whether I want to spend my career in data science.
So What Next?
Deleted: I asked Twitter how I should approach this, and got some sensible (and not so sensible) answers. But what do you have in your professional development plan? Come on, show the rest of the class 🙂