Your Career is a Canvas – Paint it!

Harini Sreenivasan


What would you do if you had a plain canvas in front of you and a palette of colours? Of course, you don’t know what to draw but you do have a dream. What do you do then? Pick up the brush and splash colours on the canvas. At this stage, when you are just out of campus, your career too is like an empty canvas. What do you have as colours in your palette? A plethora of courses, certifications and what not? Would you just splash them on your canvas or would you want to paint a pretty picture? While it might be easy to follow peers and pick up any certification or do a random course, it might just end up as not relevant to your future. All this would mean spending your time. What is really required is an investment of time. Time spent would just get consumed, while time invested would fetch returns.

Undoubtedly you would want to invest time and paint a pretty picture! Here are some quick artist tips for you. Imagine your career roadmap like a long winding road with twists and turns that life could give you, some predictable and some sudden. How would you navigate through it? Follow these steps:

Color 1: Create your future personas (at least 3 namely, 1 year from now, 5 years from now and 10 years from now. Draw a caricature for each by imagining what you would look like at each of these milestones in your career.

Color 2: Make a list of all your current attributes. Classify them into categories of technical / domain skills and competencies. Review the list and ensure it is complete. You might have to introspect a little, but it is important to be thorough and complete.

Color 3: Identify role models for each persona. Carry out extensive research and make a list of people who are already where you see yourself in the future. Classify them by each milestone of step 1. Follow them very closely and try to build your network around them.

Color 4: Make a list of all attributes of your role models. Now, this needs some effort and a lot of close observation. A list of their technical skills can be found by research about their career journeys. Close observation of their social presence, reading their works, watching their videos or interviews could help you with understanding their competencies.

Color 5: Identify the skill gap that each persona has with the role model. Compare the list of skills and attributes in Step 2 and Step 4. This list would be your guide to join the dots to get the final picture.

Color 6: Make a target timeline for development of each skill. Identify courses that have a perfect balance of affordability and value in the employment market. Complete each course with focus on the next persona.

Color 7: Re-caricature your next persona. Do not make your personas as carved in stone. Remember, you are not a sculptor, but a painter. So, review and redraw each persona periodically and revisit all the above steps.

Now you are armed with a complete range of seven colors on your palette. Become the artist, mount your career canvas on the easel, pick up the palette and the brushes, choose your colors wisely, draw your personas and start painting your picture. But do remember, it won’t be a complete picture today. You will be able to view only the foreground now. As you grow in your career, your vision will broaden and you will be able to paint the whole picture!

Happy painting!