Competitive Advantage

Delivering Tips, Insights and Resources for Success

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Competitive Advantage

Delivering Tips, Insights and Resources for Success

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Young woman with Post-it notes and planning a career

A Practical Guide to Setting a Career Goal


A college education can help you unlock new career opportunities and gain marketable skills. But many people don’t know what kind of job they want or how a college degree can help them get there. So why is career planning important? 

You don’t need to have a specific job or company in mind to go back to school. However, aligning your educational journey with a career path can set you up for future success. This guide explores the importance of career planning for returning learners and the steps you can take to create an action plan. 

Setting Your Course: The Significance of Career Planning for Adult Learners

Some people choose their dream job at a young age and pursue their goals into adulthood. For instance, an animal-loving child may later enroll in veterinary school, while a space-obsessed toddler might become an astronomer. However, many people don’t have clear career goals, even as adults. 

If you still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, the career planning process can help you chart your course. Here are two advantages of setting career goals. 

Align Your Goals: Connect Education and Career Ambitions

Developing a career plan enables you to make informed decisions about your education. Many jobs require relevant degrees and credentials. For example, the finance industry often hires people with educational backgrounds in business and economics. Likewise, registered nursing jobs typically require a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in nursing. 

Matching your career aspirations with a suitable major can fast-track your professional development. You’ll take the necessary classes and start building connections in your chosen industry. 

Find Your Path: Assess Skills and Interests for a Fulfilling Career

Evaluating your skills is one of the most essential steps in career planning. Your college’s career center may offer free skills assessment tools, but you can also identify your strengths independently.

Start by considering the skills you’ve developed through your life experience. You should also think about the activities you enjoy most and the skills they involve. Next, research careers that use these abilities and see if any spark your interest. 

How to Navigate the Job Market in Mississippi

Mississippi has a diverse economy with many exciting job opportunities. As of June 2023, the state’s unemployment ratewas 3.1%, slightly lower than the national average. While this statistic is promising, landing a desirable job still takes effort and planning. 

In-Demand Industries: Explore Fields With Promising Growth

Many industries in Mississippi have experienced rapid growth, leading to various job openings. According to the Mississippi Development Authority, the state’s top industries include: 

  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Aerospace and defense 
  • Agriculture, food, and beverage
  • Automotive
  • Distribution and logistics
  • Forestry, energy, and chemicals

Research these industries to see if your interests and skills align with the available career options. For instance, if you’re a math and science whiz, you could excel as an aerospace engineer. Similarly, you might thrive as a logistics coordinator if you have strong organizational skills. 

Adapt to Change: How to Stay Relevant in a Dynamic Job Market

Going back to school as an adult allows you to develop transferable skills that apply to various careers. These abilities make it easier to change your career trajectory as the job market evolves. 

Examples of in-demand transferable skills that will help you land your dream job include: 

  • Communication
  • Leadership 
  • Marketing 
  • Project management 
  • Teamwork 

Also, professions that require critical thinking and interpersonal skills — like dental hygienist or paralegal — are more insulated from the effects of automation and artificial intelligence. 

The Impact of Education on Your Career Trajectory

Going back to school can play a crucial role in your career development. College classes allow you to explore new subjects and deepen your understanding of your chosen field. You might discover a career choice you hadn’t even considered before and alter your plans. 

College can help you accomplish short-term goals that lead to long-term professional success. For instance, many schools offer job fairs to help you network with potential employers and career centers to give you personalized guidance. 

How a Degree Can Propel Your Career

Earning a degree can expand your career possibilities. According to the advocacy group Opportunity at Work, approximately 70% of new jobs require a four-year degree. Adult learners who earn this credential can unlock new career opportunities. 

A degree can also significantly boost your earning potential. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, people with a bachelor’s degree make $2.8 million on average over their lifetime and earn 84% more than people who have only a high school diploma. 

How to Leverage Education to Enter a New Profession

A college degree gives you the skills and credibility to break into a new career. Make the most of your education by choosing a program that aligns with your career goals and teaches you the latest skills. You can also level up your skills by completing an internship.

Take Action and Start Planning Your Career Today with C2C

The Complete 2 Compete (C2C) program can help make your dream career a reality. We offer a tuition assistance grant and career guidance for qualifying adults who want to finish their degrees and pursue successful careers. 

You’ll work with a C2C Coach to identify your career goals and plan the fastest path to graduation. Plus, you might qualify for a renewable C2C Grant that can help pay your educational expenses. 

Complete our survey to match up with a dedicated C2C Coach today. 


C2C is a state program that helps Mississippi adults who previously attended college earn a degree and create a brighter future.