What does Physics have to do with career planning and management?

In recent blogs we’ve spent some time linking concepts found in various fields of study to the topic of career planning and management. We continue with that process in today’s post, although even I have to admit that today’s topic is a bit of a stretch even for the most imaginative lover of scientific principles. At first glance, the subject of physics might not seem to have much in common with career planning and management. But in that field there is an important term that parallels a fundamental reality in career management. Lift is the component of a force that is perpendicular to an oncoming flow of a fluid (air or water). Lift is usually associated with an airfoil (e.g., the wing of a bird or an airplane) which is a streamlined shape that is capable of generating more lift than drag and thus creating the possibility for flight. When the fluid is air, it flows past the airfoil and forces are generated as the airfoil exerts a downward force on the air while the air exerts and upward force on the airfoil generating lift; known otherwise as one of the forces powering flight.

Now, you might be wondering, how can this information on physics and lift possibly relate to career planning and management? The short answer is that, without personal commitment and persistent energy (air flow and force) applied to your career management effort, the aerodynamic action of lift cannot be generated, and will thus prevent you from achieving the high-flying career you deserve. For instance, simply applying over and over again for jobs found posted on company websites or job boards is not enough in today’s intensely competitive job market. Indeed, adopting that tactic is probably as close to one can come to practicing the very definition of career-management insanity: repeatedly pursuing the same approach to a problem without achieving any success while hoping for a different outcome. Developing a robust personal networking strategy (e.g., volunteering for your alumni association), establishing and making effective use of your strong online personal brand presence via social media (e.g., LinkedIn), and knowing your target companies’ needs through effective research (both online and by speaking with current employees that you identify through your LinkedIn connections) are all must-haves for building and sustaining over a lifetime a well-managed career that can withstand the inevitable bouts of lost lift and everyday life challenges that eventually confront each person.

What can a soon-to-be college senior due to graduate in May 2017 without a career management plan of attack in place do to maximize lift in their personal career development efforts?   The first step is to stop by the UConn Center for Career Development in Wilbur Cross 202 to get your career compass heading and schedule an appointment over the summer months with a career counselor. Of course, it you prefer to start the process online, simply surf the Center for Career Development’s impressive website (career.uconn.edu) to browse and/or utilize some of the vast array of career planning and management tools available to all UConn students.

So take advantage of the aerodynamics that can help inject some lift into your career planning and management repertoire. Take time now to learn and continue to develop excellent career management habits so that they will serve you throughout your long and well-lived life. With that thought in mind, be sure to let the Center for Career Development’s staff and the Center’s arsenal of tools – such as learning how to make better use of LinkedIn – help to guide you through your career search effort.

By Paul Gagnon
Paul Gagnon Career Consultant, College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources Paul Gagnon