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Success At Work

What is the plan?

What is the plan? By Larry Smith


To ensure success, ensure you have read The entrepreneurial employee , The independent entrepreneur, and What is the problem? pages before continuing.

Need for a plan

In today’s competitive market, it is essential to undertake multifaceted career planning. Otherwise, you leave much of your career success up to random luck.

For an entrepreneurial employee, the following planning is recommended:

  1. Initial career direction planning
  2. Education planning
  3. Preliminary employment planning
  4. First employment planning
  5. Alternate employment planning
  6. Promotion planning

An important first step toward a lifelong career as an entrepreneurial employee is to define and clarify your interests, skills, personality preferences, and values, and then consider your current situational factors and goals, and how all of these intersect to influence your initial career direction. Your direction will of course be considered and refined over time, but to start can describe how you will explore, test, and define your interests; how you will map those interests and goals onto an initial career direction; how you will assure yourself that you have acquired the most complete and accurate information available to date. For more information on how to get started, see the Self-assessment section, or book an appointment with a career advisor at the Centre for Career Action — a service available to all students, post-docs, alumni and Waterloo employees. There are also extensive career workshops available on campus through the Centre. (Visit the “Appointments/Workshops” link in the main course navigation bar for more information.)

Education planning focuses on identifying the education and skills needed to move in your initially chosen direction. It involves considering how to obtain the education and experience needed to enter and thrive in your chosen career — including both formal and informal learning opportunities. Ideally this process will enable you to specify what kind of experiences you need and how you will acquire them. For resources related to education planning, see the Further Education section. Also note that Further Education appointments and workshops are also available.

The purpose here is to consider how to identify and secure a co-op, part-time, or summer job relevant to your career. The process will involve learning: how to identify employers able to offer career relevant experiences, and the strategies and tactics that will help secure employment with one of these employers. CareerHub content on how to find work (inside Canada or outside Canada) addresses these matters. Work search appointments and workshops are also available through the Centre for Career Action for applying such methods to your own situation. (Visit the “Appointments/Workshops” link in the main course navigation bar for more information.)

This planning stage delves into how you will apply what you’ve just learned about effective work search strategies and tactics to your own situation. It will involve mapping out how and when you will identify employers who are able to offer you the best career opportunities, plus a strategy to secure employment with one of those employers. See the find work (inside Canada or outside Canada) pages and Self-marketing section, or make use of Work search appointments to investigate this further.

It is important to identify at least one alternate position for employment. Planning this out means identifying alternate employers who would offer equivalent career and learning opportunities, as well as preliminary strategies to secure employment with one of these employers. This type of planning is recommended if job security is valuable to you. The Decision-making section, plus Career Development appointments and workshops, are resources available to engage in this process.

This last planning process can prepare you for securing your first, or next, promotion. It involves identifying the requirements necessary for your promotion and describing: how you will meet those requirements, how you will build your personal brand, and how you will make sure that your accomplishments are appreciated by those you report to. Your planning will be deficient if all it generates is a plan to “work hard” and “gain experience”. Consult the “Success at work” section for further discussion on this topic.

Planning elements

Each of the above planning processes should include the following elements.

  • Clearly defined self-assessment to determine the goal
  • Clearly defined steps to achieve the goal
  • Realistic timelines that keep you on track
  • Interim benchmarks to determine your progress
  • Periodic reviews to determine whether revisions to the plan are warranted

Waterloo resources and services

Online resources

The ideal way to initiate the above planning processes is to read the Decision-making section of the CareerHub. Here you will find links to multiple resources available to you at no cost.


The Centre for Career Action’s career advisors offer customized appointments that address the above planning processes.

  1. Book an appointment through the “Appointments/Workshops” link in main navigation bar of this site.
  2. Prepare for your appointment. Complete two quick assessments in TypeFocus, one addressing personality preferences and the other focusing on interests.
  3. Bring your results into a Career Development appointment to be accurately discussed and applied to your career planning process.


You can quickly register for a wide variety of workshops at The Centre of Career Action. Relevant topics include: how to start your own business; skill development; self-assessment; career planning and development; networking; mastering LinkedIn; personal branding; and success on the job. You may also sign up for a mix of entrepreneurship-focused Velocity workshops. There are also workshops, events and competitions offered by The Problem Lab, with facilitators including the Director and Founder, Larry Smith where you can learn how to examine a problem and develop professional skills.

University of Waterloo

Centre for Career Development