Before we start teasing out the differences between Career Experiments and Career Plans (And more importantly, the mindsets they turn into!) lets start with some basic definitions.
Career Experiments are hands-on activities giving you direct contact with the careers you're curious about, so you can choose one next step based on a solid foundation of experience.
Career Plans are long term goals solidified in a written document so you can make plans to achieve them over the long haul, breaking those big goals into little action steps to execute one at a time.
Here’s the big difference:
With Career Plans, your steps are predetermined. Your Career Plan dictates what you should do, and then what you should do after that, long before you even get “there.” The Career Plan gives you benchmarks of what you need to achieve, and where you need to be, three (five, etc.) years down the road…without any regard for what actually happens along the path or how your interest in the final destination may change. (ACK!!! You know that girl who persisted through four years of an education degree only to realize she can’t stand teaching? Yes, the one who disliked every.single.year of practicum, but did it anyway, because it was her “plan?” Talk about sleep walking!)
Career Experiments are based on the premise that you can’t make reality conform to your plans. Instead, what you can do is get really good at investigating all the opportunities that emerge on each, individual step of your career journey. And you can even create these opportunities through taking actions that build your network, your skills, and your awareness of how you can use them across fields and industries. Career Experiments give you the flexibility to build your career story one step at a time, making sure that each step is grounded in your most updated experience and all the information you gathered along the way.
Here are five more advantages to Career Experiments:
1) Career Experiments are low stakes. You’ll figure out right away if a path isn’t for you, so you don’t waste time pursuing a path that turns out to be a dead end or a wrong fit.
2) Career Experiments make it okay to change directions. Confidence is built by taking ONE smart step at a time, not from blind adherence to a long-term “plan.” Career Experiments accept, and even expect, changes in direction…so a “changed plan” isn’t a “failed plan.”
3) Career Experiments work with reality, instead of against it. They allow you to explore new options, many of which you may never have known existed, as you discover them.
4) Career Experiments connect you to insider’s information. They introduce you to people who are already actively engaged in a job or fields, who know the hot topics, big issues, and opportunities on the horizon...giving you real-time information on which to base your thinking and moves.
5) Career Experiments build your network, your resume, and your self-awareness. In other words, it’s the triple-threat for your career!