How to Enrich Your Own Professional Development By Answering the Question: Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

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In the field of academics, professional development is part of renewing your certificate regularly. The importance of continuing education is understood, especially with topics that are always in flux, such as technology. However, just because they are necessary doesn’t make them always interesting. Sometimes, these required courses are redundant or flat-out boring.

But if you work on your own professional development before you’re roped into whatever is left out there that you can take on your schedule and have the credits before the last minute, you can choose courses that are rewarding and beneficial to you individually. Enriching your own professional development is something that helps you in your career and personally, especially when you focus on finding classes that help you answer the question of where you’ll be in five or ten years, or the far future.

Common Future Goals for Those in Academics

Goal-setting isn’t always easy, especially once you’ve obtained the main targets you’d been working on for years, such as your college degree and a solid, reputable job. But the most satisfied people are always looking to continue to grow personally and professionally, so setting future goals to work towards is a key component in any career.

As someone in academics, you know the importance of SMART goals. Your goal should be Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Time-Bound. These SMART goals could include things like getting more training in a subject you are interested in but not proficient in quite yet, working towards the next level on the ladder within your organization, aiming for a promotion, or working with a specific researcher that you respect.

Whatever your goal is, write it down, find a way to hold yourself accountable, and then choose professional growth opportunities that support your target.

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

This is a question you are likely to get asked frequently throughout your career. As you try to grow and take on new positions, interviewers are going to want to know this answer, recruiters are going to look for specific things when you reply to this, and different interviewers are going to want to see that you have certain career goals in mind before they hire you for a position. But it’s also an important answer to have for yourself, personally and professionally, so you can continue to work toward that five-year goal.

If you’re trying to answer the question in an interview to net a coveted job, keep these tips in mind. First of all, the interviewer has good reasons for asking this question. For one thing, people who are caught on the spot with it and stumble through the response haven’t considered their careers and future well yet, and that might tell an interviewer that they’re not at the professional level that would suit the job and company. Second, though, they also want to know if you’re solid where you’re at in your life enough to stay in the position should they hire you. If your long-term career and personal goals align with the company, looking to grow and climb the ladder there and stay in the vicinity of the location, they’re more apt to see you as a serious candidate. 

Warning answers include things like you’re looking to find a job that has insurance benefits so you can have maternity/paternity coverage and then work from/stay at home. Other concerning answers would include the dream of becoming famous, going back to school, or far-fetched internal promotions.

As you work on your own professional development, you’ll be able to answer these questions for yourself and potential interviewers with solid feedback. You’ll know your target goals and how you plan on getting there. As a researcher, you could answer with specific replies that include how you’ll use your social media and websites, such as Impactio, to boost your scholarly reputation by working on research that would increase your citation metrics. You’ll fill in the gaps here by being more specific about how you’ll meet this goal, but overall, it’s a legitimate answer that would please any potential hiring body in the academic field.

Knowing where you see yourself in five years is a solid professional and personal aim, but it’s also something that has to be revisited regularly. Adjust your steps to reach your goals, and adjust your goals as you obtain them. Five years from now is always a different time, so your goals are going to be adapting as your life changes.

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