The Hub 4 steps to start planning your career

4 steps to start planning your career

By: Dr. Connie Covey, counsellor

AU Counselling Services offers career advice during Canada Career Month 

November is Canada Career Month and this year’s theme is “amplify.” This month, Athabasca University’s (AU) Counselling Services team is sharing careerfocused resources for students and alumni to help them grow and advance their careers 

The economy and labour market are changing rapidly, and it is important to keep pace—but how? Your career and education plan is the foundation to help ensure success today and into the future.  

Not sure where to start? We offer step-by-step advice needed to help guide anyone looking to kick start or further develop their career aspirations and achieve success.  

1. Explore potential careers

The first step is to identify areas of interests and careers that align with your skills, personality, and the purpose you want to pursue in your career. With tools and resources like self-assessment, resumé building, and career pre-requisite guides, AU’s education and career planning page is a great place to start.  

Other resources include:  

Happy senior woman sitting at a table in her home office, drafting

2. Identify your career goals

It is important to know what you plan to do with your education before you select a program. Take time up front to explore career options and be clear about your career goals.  

When you begin with the end in mind, you are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome of your education. After all, education is costly in time and resources, so make the best use of both by having a clearly defined career goal. 

3. Create a career and education plan

Create a career and education plan that outlines how to move from where you are now to where you want to be in the future. When considering your plan, it’s important to ask yourself some key questions:  

  • Is now the time to continue my education?   
  • Do I have the capacity, in my schedule, to set aside the appropriate time to devote to this goal?  
  • Do I have a good support structure in my life with people who can help with childcare and tasks around the house so I can focus on my studies?   
  • How much money do I need to set aside for funding my studies?   
  • Am I looking at financial assistance 
person working on laptop

4. Explore online learning

If you’re someone who can easily establish structure and routine, and you’re good at managing your time, online learning may be a great option for you. There are no classes or lectures for any AU undergraduate courses.  

Instead, AU offers flexibility in where and when you choose to dedicate time to learning. Each course is laid out for you; when you choose to work your way through the content is up to you! It is recommended to set aside 10 to 15 hours each week to complete the course within your course contract period. 

It is important to note that online learning does have its own set of challenges. It is helpful to set yourself up for success:

  • Have a dedicated study space where you can eliminate distractions
  • Inform family and friends of your study hours and turn off your cell phone during study hours
  • Have good time management skills
  • Establish a predictable study schedule with specific study times each day of the week and plan a day off during the week

As you begin your online learning journey, you may find value in AU’s 10 steps to consider. 

Still have questions or would like to schedule a one-on-one chat with an AU counsellor? AU Support Services can help! 

More resources to help your career planning and job search

If you enjoyed this article, check out our entire Canada Career Month series!

Dr. Connie Covey is an academic counsellor at Athabasca University. She is an AU alum (Bachelor of Administration) and has a master’s degree in counselling (AU, U of C, U of L) and doctor of education (U of C) in education research, adult learning. After 10 years of online learning, she enjoys helping learners achieve their learning and career goals. 

  • November 1, 2023
Guest Blog from:
Dr. Connie Covey, counsellor