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Personal development planning (PDP) is a fundamental aspect of marketing oneself to potential employers. In my opinion, there are two main purposes of developing such a plan. First, it allows the author to reflect upon the various components in order to prepare for an interview. Second, it adds a unique component to an application that allows employers to learn more about a candidate. The PDP focus on career aspirations, a reflection of skills, and a career action plan. Respectfully, all three sections are presented below for your review.
As a college student, I have elected to pursue a degree in accounting. The opportunity is very exciting to me and I have worked hard to build a strong foundation in this field over the past years. Generally speaking, the field of accounting opens many different doors. Accountants play an essential role in the business place and have a broad base of high demand (Careers in Accounting, 2009). Big corporations use in-house accountants to manage their records (Careers in Accounting, 2009). Smaller businesses and individuals utilize accountants on a consultant basis for specific tasks, such as taxes (Careers in Accounting, 2009).
My career aspirations vary as a function of time after graduating from college. In the short term, I would like to obtain an internship at an organization as a professional accountant. Ideally, the internship position would be paid but I understand that many positions are not paid (Avon, 2010). As a student, I have learned to live in a conservative way; therefore, I would accept a non-paid internship. My expectation is that this position would require me to work very hard in completing many different assignments. As a bottom-rung position, I also understand that much of the work that I receive will be task-oriented assignments (Avon, 2010). However, my position does allow me full access to a professional firm; in exchange for doing mental labor, I will be able to learn an immense amount of information (Avon, 2010). The goal of this short-term internship is to open my eyes and allow me to experience accounting in a private firm.
In the medium term, I would like to hold the position of account manager. This position means that I would be responsible for a handful of big cases (Ballou et al., 2010). I would likely have a team of junior accountants or interns to aid me in managing various firms’ accounting records. In my opinion, this is a position of great responsibility for several reasons. First, I would be the primary line of contact between a contracted firm and my employer. I will have to satisfy the needs of both parties (Ballou et al., 2010). Second, I will be responsible for several members on my team. This requires management of many issues, such as organizational structure, behavioral management, and group dynamics (Ballou et al., 2010). I expect that I will learn many of these skills as I progress up the ladder, but I recognize that I must actively develop them. Third, as an account manager, I understand that I bear the responsibility of anything that goes wrong (Ballou et al., 2010). If a contracted firm is disappointed, that directly affects my reputation. This is appropriate and expected based upon the risk-reward system; account managers inherently have more risk than interns.
In the long term, I plan to become a partner in an accounting firm or open my own private accounting business. However, I recognize that there are many different factors that affect this. For instance, if the firm were already saturated with partners, the likelihood of a promotion in my case would be less (Guinn et al., n.d.). During applications and interviews, this will weigh heavily on my acceptance decision if I am offered a position at multiple firms. Ultimately, if the partner position were not realizable, then I would prefer to open my own practice in accounting. Although there are some obvious challenges in doing this, such as start up costs and competition, I sincerely believe that at this point in my career I will have developed the necessary skills.
Lastly, based upon the information that I have presented above, I would like to discuss my biggest strength and weakness. I think that my strongest skill is communication. I have other strengths, but I think that communication is the most important of them all. I have purposefully selected communication for one specific reason. It does not matter how much I know or what I can do if I am unable to understand the needs of others and provide a service in a way that in comprehendible to others (Unknown, 2007). On a different note, my biggest weakness is lack of experience. I am a college student and I have limited work experience in the finance and banking industry. I recognize my limitations but I also believe that this is where I should be at this point in my life. This weakness is mitigated by the fact that I am pursuing internships and planning on working myself up the ladder to gain experience as I progress.
My journey through college and pursuit of a degree in economics has been a constant learning experience. With each new day, I learn something new that shapes and defines my future. I would like to present three recent experiences that have shaped my growth as an economics student.
At my last place of employment, I was selected to work on a team to develop and implement a new protocol regarding the recording of financial data. Unfortunately the previous interns did not have a system in place and data was being lost. My experience on the team influenced me in big ways. First, the dynamics of the team were off. There were two people in particular that constantly argued about which way to proceed. Both individuals wanted the entire team to do things their way, which obviously led to internal conflict. Although emotions ran high and I wanted the team to succeed, I had to make a conscious decision to remain impartial to the two individuals. In our conversations, I did not get involved in the emotional conflict. I was instead very straightforward, on-topic, and objective in my discussions. Overall, I think that this was a tremendous experience in professionalism. As a future professional, there will be times when things aren’t going well. This experience gives me a basis of how to handle myself during difficult times.
Another recent experience occurred while I was traveling. I was in an airport and my flight was suddenly cancelled because of weather. Due to the location and circumstances, there was not another seat available until two days later. This is an obvious problem for different reasons. First, I have many responsibilities with regular deadlines. The flight cancellation meant that I could miss a course, appointment, or even something larger such as an exam. Second, if this situation occurred later on in my life, such as when I am an account manager, there could potentially be a potential major issue. Ultimately, I managed this issue by remaining in contact with all of the respective parties. I emailed my professors and explained the situation. I contacted friends and family to let them know where I was. I was able to complete my assignments on a notebook computer and access the Internet on a pay basis. The most important thing that I learned is that responsibilities are responsibilities; they must get done. I also learned that I have an innate ability to find the solution to a problem quickly and effectively. I was able to adjust rapidly and meet all of the deliverables with time to spare. In the future, I think that continuing to develop these skills is paramount to my success as an account manager or partner in an accounting firm.
Recently, I volunteered some time to help a friend move. There were several of us and we were moving a heavy couch and TV down two flights of stairs. On the first trip we moved the couch. Everybody was going in different directions and the process was very disorganized. The couch left marks on the wall and the situation could have been very bad if somebody accidentally fell. This bothered me on a personal level because I am very analytical. When it came time to move the TV, I spoke up and came up with a plan. I offered several suggestions, answered questions, and everybody agreed. We then executed the plan and the TV was moved without problem. From this experience, I learned the importance of being a manager. I learned that I enjoy working with people and that I take the time to explain things. I also learned that people are receptive to what I have to say. I think that these are all natural traits of a good manager and I think that developing them will improve my opportunity to succeed in the future.
Career Action Plan
A career action plan covers three objectives that I would like to accomplish in the next 12 months. In order to specify the objectives, it is first important to explain the goal. In the next 12 months, my goals are to be on track for graduating with a degree in accounting and to obtain an internship position at a reputable accounting firm. Based upon these two goals, my objectives are as follows.
First, I need to stay focused and maintain my GPA at its current level to graduate on time and also to obtain the best letters of recommendation possible. In the business community, a degree alone is often not enough to earn a position at a firm. Many offices ask for a transcript that is associated with a specific degree to see how well the applicant performed in classes. Realistically, the better my grades the better my opportunity of earning a good internship position. In addition, maintaining my GPA has the primary requirement that I perform well in college. This performance will be important when I ask professors to be references on employment applications. I would like to obtain high quality references to increase the chances of earning an internship. Below is the SMART analysis for this objective:
S: yes, maintain my GPA at its current level
M: yes, the GPA is a numerical figure
A: yes, this is very reasonable
R: yes, this is very realistic
T: yes, the time encompasses now through graduation
Second, I would like to develop my contacts through networking. In the business community, networking is an essential component of learning about of opportunities. Although accounting might seem solitary, I personally think that it allows for interaction with many different individuals within the firm and also with clients. I expect that this interaction would increase as I climb up the ladder. Nonetheless, the opportunity to meet people and spread my name will help to build a reputation. In the next nine months, I would like to meet and introduce myself to 50 people. I plan to do this over a summer internship at an accounting firm. If people do not know me or know who I am, it is impossible for them to give me an opportunity. Clearly, networking is a clear component of success in the business market. Below is the SMART analysis for this objective:
S: yes, the quantity is 50 in 9 months
M: yes, both numbers are quantitative
A: yes, this is very reasonable given my summer internship
R: yes, this is very realistic
T: yes, the time encompasses now through nine months
Third, I would like to save $5,000 in the next six months. If I elect to take a non-paid summer internship, I will need to have some reserve funds to cover me during that period. I will need to pay rent, eat, and transport myself to the office. I estimate that $5,000 is a conservative figure to cover these expenses comfortably. I will likely be able to survive on less, but I would rather have extra funds than not enough. I plan to save this money by putting away funds from student loans and from my current job. Below is the SMART analysis for this objective:
S: yes, the quantity is $5,000
M: yes, the number is measurable
A: yes, this is reasonable understanding that the number is an over-estimate
R: yes, this is realistic
T: yes, the time encompasses now until summer break (6 months)
The personal development plan (PDP) has been a very instrumental exercise in thinking about my current standing and future. From time to time, I think about what I might do in the future but I have never had to sit down and formally develop a plan. Now that it is complete, I can say without a doubt that it is very helpful. It is easier to focus on the tasks at hand when I have a clear view of what I want to accomplish. In terms of skills development, the exercise in identifying recent experiences was not only difficult but also very rewarding. As a college student, I know that my experiences shape me constantly. However, there is a difference between a subtle influence and a conscious influence. Reviewing my experiences and writing about them helped to jump the gap between a subtle influence and a conscious influence. Lastly, developing objectives was also very helpful. I quickly realized that in order to have objectives, I must have specific goals. Since the assignment required that I come up with objectives over the next 12 months, I decided that it would be good to also state the goals over the next 12 months. In doing so, the necessary objectives became very clear to me. In the end, I am very pleased with my growth in doing this assignment. I learned a lot about my ambitions and what I need to do to accomplish them.
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