No matter where you are in your career or what your professional goals are, there’s always something you could or should be doing to prepare for your next step.

We recently asked Capella University Career Center counselors what people should be doing today to start advancing their careers. Their answers fell into three categories:


1. Pause and prepare

Reflect on your career to understand what you want and need from it. Where do you want to go next? What are your goals?

Take some time to consider what skills, abilities, and experience you bring to the table. Then, practice communicating your value and accomplishments to others, so you can present yourself professionally as you network or interview.

Find out the Keys to Career Success for detailed tips on how to pause and prepare for your next step.


2. Connect with others

Grow your professional community by networking and seeking out informational interviews. Talk to professionals just ahead of you in your field to learn more about what they do, how they got there, what suggestions they have for you, etc. Learn The Art of the Informational Interview.

Most importantly, be nice to everyone. Show respect to all people at all times—whether they are a seasoned professional or an intern. It’s the right thing to do and you never know who might want to help you in the future (and what role the intern will have in a few years).


3. Learn and grow

Never stop learning. Stay on top of your game and build skills in what you want to do in the future. Engage in professional development, join industry associations, take courses and self-paced learning activities, pursue any other way to keep up with new knowledge in your field, and seek out learning opportunities.

In your current role, volunteer for stretch projects or projects to build a skillset in your desired role. For example, raise your hand to lead a project. Or, take the initiative to identify a problem, propose a solution, and then lead the team to implement the fix. Learn 10 Ways to Demonstrate Leadership at Work regardless of your role.


Prepare for your future career, now

Regularly set aside some time to focus on your professional development and career goals. Use these three categories as a guide to create some actionable tasks. By working on them now, you’ll be prepared for whatever opportunities come your way in the future.


Capella students can get support on their career development journey from the Capella Career Center.