Career Planning in Tech

Zack Koppert
3 min readAug 13, 2019

I wanted to share a career goal planning method that I have found helpful. After trying several different methods (Sticky Notes, Index Cards, special notebook) I have landed on something dynamic and well organized enough to work for me. I used Trello.com to lay out all these different pieces. Check out the link to the board to see what it looks like: https://trello.com/b/2GyDG9Zz

Career planning task board

Walking through each of the pieces, it starts on the left with overall goals. I found this helpful to think in timelines of 1/3/5 year goals. First I reflected on what I am looking for in my career and found 3 goals with some wild guess at a timeframe as shown in the image below. If you follow the link to the actual Trello board then you can click on any one of the career goal cards and see a more detailed description of what it means to me.

Big Career Goals Backlog

After identifying the more long term goals and rough timelines, I created a “Backlog” column to hold all of the tasks that I would do to accomplish my goals from the first column. Often it took a conversation with mentors at work to identify what incremental steps I could take, to make progress towards my big career goals. To ensure the best start to this board, I made sure that each goal was a S.M.A.R.T. goal. See more on that here: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm

I also labeled tasks according to which goal they helped me with and what type of task they were. In Trello you can filter by label which tasks are on screen so I made a label for each big goal. The task types, also input as labels, I used are Learn by doing (shooting for 70% of my tasks to hit this category), Learn by Training (shooting for 20%), and finally Learn by Training (10%). I didn’t come up with that concept of targeting learning into these categories. You can read more about that concept here: https://trainingindustry.com/wiki/content-development/the-702010-model-for-learning-and-development/

Backlog of tasks to accomplish career big goals

After getting a good bunch of tasks dreamt up, I created columns for In progress tasks and completed tasks. Regularly and openly sharing this plan with my manager has definitely helped make some of these things happen including them paying $$ towards my development.

Let me know if how you track and plan career goals or any feedback you might have on how to improve my Trello board model.

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