Purpose, Pivot, Professionalism

Think Purpose, Pivot, and Professionalism

As you read earlier, the mission of the Center for Career Discovery and Development (C2D2) is to help you – in collaboration with faculty and staff across campus – learn how work works, not just how to get work. To that end, we have defined objectives for your career development, just as you have learning objectives in your academic courses. These are: develop your sense of purpose; cultivate pivot potential; and hone your professionalism.

Develop Your Sense of Purpose

A recent survey by global employer branding firm Universum, with 82,000 U.S. college students responding, found that “inspiring purpose” is the number one attribute that students want in an employer. In the same survey, all respondents from Georgia Tech ranked inspiring purpose #6 out of forty choices. And when you separate out Georgia Tech first-year students, the rank was up to #4.

This aligns with the Georgia Tech motto of “Progress and service.” As a Tech student, you have an ability to change, shape, or otherwise contribute to the world. Or, on a more down-to-earth level, you have an opportunity to make significant contributions to your future employers or professional community. So as you develop your career, the best starting point is not to ask “Who will hire me?” or “Which graduate or professional school will admit me?” Nor is the best first question “What can I do with a major in…?” Instead, you should be asking “How do I want to make a difference?” or “Where can I make an impact?” or “Which problems do I want to solve?”

Your answer to these questions, i.e., your sense of purpose, will evolve over time, so you don’t have to figure it all out right now. But it’s important to watch how your sense of purpose unfolds throughout your college career. When you know why you’re getting out of bed every day to do a job or to pursue advanced studies, and you know what kind of impact you can make, you are more likely to find your work meaningful and fulfilling.

Cultivate Pivot Potential

You’ve been admitted to Georgia Tech, so I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you’ve had more accomplishments than failures in your life. I bet that you had a pretty good idea of the things you needed to do to be accepted to competitive universities and a good idea of the knowledge and skills you needed to acquire to be prepared for university. And, now that you’re here, you’ll have a syllabus for each class that tells you what to do, when to do it, and how you’ll be graded. Well, life after college doesn’t come with a syllabus.

When you graduate, you’ll be thrust into a world where career paths are not straight lines, in-demand skill sets are ever-changing, and what your boss or client wants one day is no longer needed the next day. To prepare for this, we want you to cultivate pivot potential. This means a comfort level with ambiguity, an attitude that sees setbacks – even failure – as a growth opportunity, and an ability to adapt, flex, and change course. Don’t worry. It’s not so scary.

Hone Your Professionalism

Employers these days expect new hires to hit the ground running with workplace competencies they don’t have time to teach. In surveys of thousands of employers, the National Association of Colleges and Employers has found that the most often cited competencies needed for career readiness are:

  • Critical thinking / problem solving
  • Teamwork/collaboration
  • Communications
  • Technology acuity
  • Leadership
  • Work ethic
  • Career management
  • Global/intercultural fluency

Through your coursework, co-curricular and extra-curricular experiences, co-ops, internships, part-time jobs, and involvement in campus activities, you will have the opportunity to develop and hone these critical competencies.

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