When it comes to advancing your professional career path, it can feel like it’s a very singular and personal journey, built on sequential sets of decision-making opportunities that ultimately only affect you. Today in this blog, I aim to share the many angles that emphasize a viewpoint that shows advancing your own professional career is in fact a community building effort, and it is very possible that those decision-making moments, challenges to overcome, and opportunities to pursue, can ultimately affect a host of individuals that are interconnected with you, on a professional, and personal level.
Let’s start by pointing out the fact that currently all of the science and health sectors are significantly being affected by the Covid-19 global pandemic. These are special circumstances that bring about unique challenges and pressures on the decision-making processes that early careers (and actually, careers of all stages) have to tackle. Part of the unique situation that we’re all dealing with is the mixture of increased separation and distance within professional working groups (either in actual physical space, or with the addition of a larger work-from-home element), coupled with the shared connection that so many of us are basically dealing with very similar stresses (the novelty of the situation; the larger than normal burden on physical and mental health; the uncertainty of short/long term professional plans, etc.).
These challenges are all coming on top of the already known and understood stresses and pressures involved in trying to pursue advancements in a professional career path. So questions can come up in our mind every once in a while, such as “Should I delay, or reduce my strive to grow professionally for now? Should I hold on to what I have, make sure I ride out the storm? How can I think of professional advancement at this time, when so many are dealing with extraordinary challenges?”. These are valid and excellent thoughts to have, and to try to find actual answers for. Each one of us faces a few similar, and many distinct, sets of factors that contribute to our decision making process regarding our current and future professional paths.
When it comes to professional advancement, sometimes looking after your own self interests also serves as looking after the interests of the many communities that you belong to. Moving forward in a career path allows for a number of positive changes to happen simultaneously:
The professional space that you occupied can be now filled by someone else.
Moving forward professionally frees up the junior position that you previously held (and managed to succeed in, allowing for the advancement to happen). Now someone else can come in this space, learn and have an opportunity to advance in their future, in a way similar to what you’ve done. Bonus community points: Now you are able to be a direct, or indirect (formal or informal) mentor to this new individual, or at the very least a useful contact and advisor.
Your new position will benefit from having you join.
Remember that advancing your career, getting the “new job”, is not just a win for you, but also for the job itself! Progressing through your career path means you’ve gained skills and experiences that will be of value to the new community and position you’ve moved into. This is also a reminder to always look inward towards what you can provide for the new career, not just look for what the new career provides you. Obviously there is a learning curve to every new professional position, but your unique collection of skills and experiences is just as important to integrate into this new path.
Science and healthcare serve the local, national and international population.
As an early career scientist, I always anchor my thoughts around this basic truth. My career progression depends on my ability to contribute to the advancement of knowledge and innovation, geared towards serving the needs of the global population. In my case specifically, my job focuses on reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease, and finding new ways to promote and sustain a longer healthier life. For me, professional advancement allows me to expand my reach and work towards affecting more people in a way that contributes to their health and global knowledge. When it comes to your professional path, make sure to evaluate and appreciate your own current and future contributions to the communities you’re part of.
So my take home message today is: advancing your own professional career path is in fact not just an act of singular self interest, but an opportunity to help progress the community you are leaving and the community you are joining. The current global pandemic has brought on some additional challenges and stresses that must be acknowledged and appropriately taken into account. All of these factors play a role, but should not dissuade anyone from striving towards advancing one’s professional career.
“The views, opinions and positions expressed within this blog are those of the author(s) alone and do not represent those of the American Heart Association. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them. The Early Career Voice blog is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. Only your healthcare provider can provide that. The American Heart Association recommends that you consult your healthcare provider regarding your personal health matters. If you think you are having a heart attack, stroke or another emergency, please call 911 immediately.”
Mo is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, researching the connections between DNA damage, inflammation, and Heart Failure. Additionally, he serves in various committees to advocate for early career professionals and highlight research within the cardiovascular community. Early Career Social Media Liaison and Member of AHA Council for Basic Cardiovascular Sciences. Twitter @MoalkhalafPhD