My Career Plan

Living Document | Last Updated on 2019-03-10

Contents

Introduction

A ‘career plan’ is really monumental thing. It’s like defining how you want to spend 40% of your time in the next year. It affects all areas of one’s life: who your friends are, what ideas you’re exposed to and what you think about day-to-day. When viewed like this it seems like a hopelessly huge decision to try and define statically. However I think it’s worth doing.

As part of my studying of the ‘80,000 Hours’ career guide, I was introduced to the idea of the ‘Planning Paradox’. The idea that a plan will nearly always change before it’s implemented, due to a changing environment. The world of work is always changing, so it seems very applicable to this situation. However the guide suggests that, despite this paradox, plans are still worth making. They can be a great exercise in clarifying what exactly it is you’re aiming for. To have a target without the pretense that it will never change.

Why make this public? Honesty is something that I highly value, to be transparent in intentions. So how much more transparent can you get with your career intentions than posting the your plan online publicly? I hope that it will serve as a useful reference for employers, co-workers and friends to know what I’m aiming for. May it spawn conflicts of interest? Maybe. But I value the transparency and freedom of information more than any hindrance it may cause me.

I start by defining my current career options using a predefined structure called the ‘A/B/Z’. Secondly I include a change log to provide commentary as to how the options have changed over time.

Current Career Options

The A/B/Z is a set of three plans for how you can aim to develop your career. It was created by Reid Hoffman in his book ‘The Startup of You’, and suggested to me in the 80,000 Hours section on career planning. Three plans are defined:

Plan A
The Ideal Option, in the medium term1.
Plan B
A promising alternative. For when progress in Plan A becomes difficult.
Plan Z
A temporary fallback. For when all plans go ary and you need time to think.

This is a great structure since it can remind of secondary options in case my current pursued career gets set back somehow. Say a risk I took while executing Plan A failed and I found it hard to get jobs in Plan B, I would always have a fallback option. Reminding myself of this makes taking risks a little easier to stomach and helps get around some common decision making problems (like not switching to a better option). Provided are each of my choices for the plans and my justification.

Plan A — The Ideal Option

Software Developer. Through college and university this has been the natural ending point of my education. Designing and developing software, whether it is systems or application software. I currently hold all of the necessary skills for this career and also have received enough feedback to make me feel confident that I’m fairly good. It provides many opportunities for creative problem solving and flow-inducing work. There are many external benefits such as great work environments, generous salaries and I feel like I fit into the culture of software teams well. The major negative right now which may cause me to revise this plan is the lack of positive social impact caused by the building of software. This often makes my work feel meaningless, not something particularly worth living for.

Plan B — A Promising Alternative

Technical Writer. This is the synthesis of two strong interests of mine: technology and information codification. The latter might be an odd phrase to you, so consider it as ‘appreciating the creative communication of ideas’. This is something which I consider as very powerful when done well. Knowledge sharing is extremely underrated within business and can be carried out poorly, leading to communication issues and potential organisational dysfunction. In this career I would like to be dedicated to dealing with these issues head on. Improving the internal education of a technology company’s own product and ensuring that the most important information is reaching the right people at the right times.

I received feedback from classmates at university that I had a great way of explaining complex topics. Also, I have received complements for small amounts of technical documentation written as a software developer. These provide me with confidence that I would be well suited to this position of communication through writing. A last tenuous suggestion that I may fit in this field well is the large amount of personal time I dedicate to reading2.

Plan Z — A Temporary Fallback

Barge Maintenance. I can rely on being able to go and work with my Dad on restoring his barge and making some money helping with tours. This is not ideal since it would likely involve me to move to the barge from wherever I am living. However I feel it is a safe guarantee of room and board, not to mention the numerous benefits of being in the centre of London.

Change Log

To help keep track of how my career plan has evolved to its current state, I will document the changes here and justifications for these.

March 2019

This is the initial version of the plan. Stating Software Developer, Technical Writer and Barge maintenance as my A/B/Z. The purpose of this was to write out my current career expectations before going ahead and researching a load of alternatives that could provide more socially impactful positions.

Notes


  1. Greater than 6 months, less than 18 months.

  2. See my reading list on Goodreads.com.