In November 2018 an important part of my life finally reached to an end: I completed my postgraduate studies in my original academic field, biological sciences. However, even as someone committed to a PhD program, I’ve been dreaming and planning about a career transition for over three years now. I decided that I want to pursuit a career as a software engineer, in computer science, focused initially in web development. My current enrollment with UoPeople is part of this transition plan, but it isn’t really the only part of it. The plan is more complex than just a bachelor’s degree and this week’s reading assignment gave me many ideas on how to improve my planning strategy in order to enhance my chances to actually achieving this goal, especially after reading and learning about the SMART strategy (Carpenter, Bauer & Erdogan, 2010).
The SMART strategy is simply a set of guidelines to approach and achieved a complex goal, with higher chances of succeed in this goal, depending on the quality of the implementation of these guidelines (Carpenter et al., 2010). This means that if one is paying attention to all the details of this planning process, his or her chances of reaching the final goal is simply much higher. The idea behind these guidelines attempts to guide the planner into a set of aspects of a given goal, in order to make it Specific, Measurable, Aggressive, Realistic and Timely—thus the acronym, SMART. As mentioned in the first paragraph, As mention previously, I’ve been planning the goal of successfully change careers in a no-time for a couple of years now.
In order to accomplish this, I created a list of free online courses I will take, in a specific order. This order was thought in a way that courses that have repetitive curriculum aspects will complement each other, serving as a review system as well. These include courses from Coursera, edX, Udacity, as well as UoPeople and two programming online bootcamp programs, the freeCodeCamp and The Odin Project. Therefore, the first step to the SMART planning system was already taken, which is “Specify” in detail this given goal (Carpenter et al., 2010). I not only know exactly what I want to become (software engineer initially focused on web development), but I know how I want to achieve this (through online courses), where exactly my sources will come (Coursera, UoPeople), etc.
The second step according to the SMART planning system is called “Measurable” (Carpenter et al., 2010). This is easily reachable by the system I’ve created since each course (or term) has a pre-defined and limited duration. Thus, included in the list of courses, which I call my path, I added the time when I’m expected to be finished with that particular course. Adding this layer of complexity into one’s planning creates the accountability aspect, which should be a required aspect to any planning scheme. In addition, I can say that career transitions are ambitious by definition and when these processes are planned to be concluded faster than expected I can also say that it’s an Aggressive plan. Aggressiveness is another characteristic of the SMART planning system (Carpenter et al., 2010), which I also believe it was covered on my plan.
However, the Realist part of the SMART system was the one that made me review the entire plan. I believe that every ambitious plan can become unrealistic if the planner is not carefully paying attention to all details. Because of this, I reviewed my initial plan, deleting some programed courses and expanding the expected completion time for some others. Therefore, I adapted it in order to become more SMART and realistic. Finally, the letter “T” on the SMART planning system means “Timely”, which is a characteristic present in any plan with a timetable included—which as I aforementioned, it is the case.
In conclusion, the SMART planning system helped me to review a long-term plan I’m preparing for over three years now. It’s a dream that I’m already currently pursuing, and the SMART planning system helped me to adapt some of its details in an attempt to make it more feasible. I believe this week’s reading assignment might have made a great impact in me and my goal, and therefore, it has potentially changed my life.
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