I am often asked by urban planning students for career advice. Here are my top recommendations:

1. Become a lifelong learner

Building career resilience facilitates work security and requires a commitment to lifelong learning. Be open to learning new skills, new experiences, and to fostering rich and purposeful relationships.

2. Figure out what matters to you

Your values reveal what you really want. Set goals that are within reach while keeping an eye on who you want to be, where you want to be, and what you really want for your life. That way, if you find yourself in a job that you need to take (i.e., because of whatever circumstances), but that does not quite align with your values, plan for how long you will need to stay in the job to learn some skills, to gain some income, to get experience, and network (i.e., ask yourself for how long, and under what conditions would it be appropriate to leave). While you make the most of what you have, you can keep looking for the opportunity to move on to a job that is closer to your values.

3. Align your values to your goals

Building career resilience is not easy, but it can be easier when you get closer to knowing what you want and what are your values. An approach to career resilience that strives to align values with goals also invites you to actively manage your career and to build your capacity to ‘pivot’ as the job landscape changes.

4. Find your people

Seek out supporters and mentors to collaborate with you, to nurture career resilience. Work with your mentors to make the personal changes that you want, and systemic changes that we need to make the world a better place. Take advantage of professional development and volunteering opportunities, and diversify your skills. Build self-awareness with every opportunity.

5. Build a community of practice

Building career resilience does not have to be a solo journey. Bringing together some of your people to build a community of practice will not only make the journey less lonely, but it can offer you insight into how to strategize and map out your next steps in supportive and resourceful ways. There are many more benefits to building a community of practice as a professional learning strategy and as a crucial source of support in your career journey. I have written more about building a community of practice in this blogpost.

Remember to reflect on your values and align your goals with them, so that no matter where you take your career, you will always bring purpose and meaning to your practice, to your life, and to your community.

Note: Portions of this blogpost will be part of an Ontario Professional Planners’ Institute Members Spotlight feature.

Artwork by Leela Viswanathan

Career Mentoring