Designing YOU

The Professional YOU is the intersection of what you're good at,what you love to do, and what you can make a living doing.

Defining the Professional YOU is the most difficult part of the design process.

By the time you get here you’ll have been gazing into a crystal ball and envisioning your future. It’s a lot of pressure, but you won’t be alone. Figuring out the Professional YOU will require digging for information and talking to people about the future. This can’t be rushed, so go slow and expect this part to take weeks or months to complete.

Defining the Professional YOU is so difficult, we’ve written an entire series of Designing YOU Career Guides to support you work down this path. These Career Guides explore some of the crucial questions facing anyone exploring their Professional YOU.  

  1. What are the different careers options?
  2. What does it take to be a professional in a specific area?
  3. What’s the future of different professions and what does this mean to me?
  4. How have other professionals got to where they are today?
  5. And the inevitable… how much money can I make doing different jobs?

To support this, we have designed a series of Career Guides that included detailed mission maps to help guide your design.

The following Career Guides currently available (or close) are: 


What is a
Mission Map?

In Designing YOU, we challenge you to develop a 10-Year Mission. A Purpose. 


For most twenty-somethings, ten years may as well be 100 years. So it's common for a lot of people get frozen by the daunting task of looking ahead ten years. One of the biggest barriers to moving forward is the question:

What do I want to do when I graduate and walk into the real-world?

There’s a problem with this question.

The "real-world" doesn’t begin after graduation. It’s happening right now.

The knowledge and skills you'll need to deliver on your 10-Year Professional Mission can’t all be learned by accident. Rather, they need to be the outcome of an intentional development process rooted in five build blocks. 

1.       education & learning

2.       employment experiences

3.       volunteer experiences

4.       contextual experiences

5.       important relationships

In other words, the expertise you’ll possess in ten years, whether it as a marine biologist or an accountant, won’t be a fluke. It needs to be planned. 

Education and Learning 

This includes traditional forms of education (like university or college) and other forms of lifelong learning ranging from professional development courses to awesome podcasts and books.

Questions to explore:

  1. What should I major and minor in?
  2. What specific courses should I take?
  3.  Do I need to go to graduate school?
  4. What certifications will I need?
  5.  What podcasts should I listen to?
  6. What books should I read?

Employment Experience

This includes every job you’ll ever have—full-time and part-time alike—that contributes to your skill development. While in school, this could include co-op terms, internships, and part-time and summer employment.

Questions to explore:

  1. What type of internships or co-op positions should I take while in school?
  2. What could be my first job in when I graduate?
  3. How can I get employment experience so I can become knowledgeable across all four career clusters?
  4. How much time should I spend in various jobs?

Community Experience

This includes all those volunteer and extracurricular activities that contribute to your knowledge and skill development. This might include involvement in clubs, teams or community organizations.

Questions to explore:

  1. How can volunteer roles support the development of my key knowledge and skills?
  2. How can volunteering support my networking?
  3. What types of organizations align with my values?
  4. Do I want to assume a leadership position in an organization?

Contextual Experience 

This includes international experiences, industry experiences, organization size and scope, and travelling experiences.

International experiences 

Paid or unpaid international work experience.

Questions to explore:

  1. What are the benefits to doing a semester abroad?
  2. How can working internationally contribute to my knowledge and skills?

Industry Experience

Specific industry sector experiences throughout your career.

Questions to explore:

  1. How could my choice of industry sector change my job as a marketer?
  2. Should I work agency side, client side or both?
  3. I’m not very technical; does this mean I’m at a disadvantage if I want to be a technology marketer?

Organization Size & Scope

The size of an organization can have a significant impact on the scope and depth of a role.

Questions to explore:

  1. How does working for a startup help me?
  2.  What are the benefits and risks of me building an entire career in a single large company?
  3. Should I take a job at a large global multinational organization to meet my goal of working internationally?

Travelling Experience

International experience and exposure to diverse cultures can contribute to your personal and professional development.

Questions to explore:

  1. How can travelling internationally contribute to my knowledge and skill development?
  2.  If I take time out of my career to travel, am I risking being passed by people who don’t?
  3. Can I blend my desire to backpack around the world with a desire to work internationally?

Important Relationships 

This includes three major categories—mentors, networking and personal relationships.

Questions to explore:

  1. How can mentors help me get ahead?
  2. How can my professional network contribute to knowledge and skill development?
  3. My professional mission is part of my life—but it’s not my whole life. How can I ensure I maintain successful and fulfilling personal relationships while still pursuing my professional mission?

Before you develop your own Mission Map, we've included dozens of different Mission Maps based 10 years into a career. Each map is a summary based on interviews and surveys of real people and their real experiences in their careers and in life.  If you'd like to start by exploring our range of Career Mission Maps, click here to search our Designing YOU Mission Map database.  

There is never just one single map to get from here to there. Consider these sample Mission Maps more of a compass than a GPS. They won’t tell you exactly how to get from here to there, but they’ll point you in the right direction, tell you where to start and offer support on the way. 



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Praise for Designing YOU

In today’s digital age, university students are faced with information overload and an over-abundance of
messages. In their book, Finch and DePaul – who built their own successful careers as product marketers
– apply the same design principles to provide tools to help students make better decisions. For any
college student looking for an edge or a future path to success, Designing YOU is a go-to resource.

- Dr. Norm O’Reilly, Richard P. and Joan S. Fox Professor of Sport Management; Chair, Ohio University


“As a student in David’s capstone marketing class, I was lucky enough to get a crash course on what it
would take to succeed at an industry level. However, upon graduation I came to realize that to be
successful you need to view education through a different lens. In Designing YOU, David and Ray provide
a simple, structured process on how to develop and achieve a goal. I highly recommend it for any student
who is starting to think about life outside the walls of academia and what comes next.”

- Alex Zarco, Digital Marketing, lululemon athletica

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