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Alumni in Action

Alumni Webinar Series: Professional Goal Setting: Navigating Your Career Journey

By Wisconsin School of Business

January 18, 2022

Setting long-term professional goals is essential to advancing your career and feeling fulfilled by your job. Your career is a constant and evolving process of learning, risk taking, evaluation, and planning— and movement can be inevitable. It’s important to maintain your value throughout the journey of your career with successful goal setting and achievement. During this webinar, Betsy Hagan, an instructor at the Wisconsin School of Business Center for Professional & Executive Development, examines both the opportunities and barriers associated with three common career routes: occupational, organizational, and boundary-crossing.


Occupational career routes are clearly defined by requirements or professional standards that one has to meet to advance. This career path is often fulfilling, but there are many barriers. There are times when you won’t be in control of how you move up in this kind of career path. Other deterrents may include a certain level of performance, the money required to achieve these careers, and the willingness to put in the effort.


Organizational career routes are based on the kind of organization you wish to be in. Valuing an organization’s mission can influence your decision to stay there. For example, a medical sales professional may want to stay in that field based on how the products they support positively affect the medical field and contribute to world health. In organizational career routes, you can find new opportunities based on expertise, but the drive is more focused on the organization. A barrier in this career route can be the limited number of available roles in any given organization. The roles you’re looking for and qualified to fulfill won’t always be available. Unfortunately, organizational politics can also play a role in how you advance.

Entrepreneurial or Boundary-Crossing

Entrepreneurial or “boundary-crossing” career routes are not defined by a single employment setting. Individuals interested in taking this route are looking to apply their skills in multiple ways. This could mean hiring yourself out freelance, or starting your own business. Before moving to this route, ask yourself whether it is better to be less attached to an industry or organization. During “the great resignation,” this is an option that more people are starting to explore. Boundaries include giving up a fair amount of security. This career route may mean less consistency in work, and it doesn’t come with the benefits that many organizational or occupational careers do.

It’s important to remember that ascent isn’t the only direction to go when changing career paths. The idea that “up” is the only direction is usually rooted in the idea of growing compensation. There is some truth to that, but try to look at career movement as a lattice rather than a ladder. Hagan is an independent consultant specializing in organizational effectiveness and talent development. She is an instructor at the Wisconsin School of Business Center for Professional & Executive Development. Her background includes 15 years of senior leadership experience in corporate human resources and program management with Hewitt Associates LLC, a $3 billion HR consulting and outsourcing company located in Lincolnshire, Illinois.