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Goal Setting

Every student at Epicodus has a unique path into programming and equally unique goals for their career after graduation. You may dream of work as a full-stack web developer building applications for a small startup. Maybe you want to be a front-end developer on a large team for a big name organization, or work as a software engineer for a non-profit project. Maybe you want to use your education at Epicodus as a stepping stone into additional education and experience in a niche like cybersecurity or UI/UX design, or use it to leverage your way into a non-coding role as a project manager or technical support engineer. Maybe you’re not sure where your path forward from Epicodus will take you β€” and that’s completely normal, too.

You’ll explore in detail what a career in tech might look like for you as you progress through the career services curriculum and work with your advisor. For now, let’s start by establishing why you’re here, what you want to get out of your time at Epicodus, and how you’re going to achieve your goals.

Setting SMART Goals​

At Epicodus, we advocate embracing a growth mindset. An important part of this growth mindset is to measure your progress against yourself, and not against other students. As you set goals, these should also align with your individual progress, experience, and big-picture plans.

SMART goals are an evidence-based formula for setting achievable goals. They can be used on anything from short-term daily or weekly goals, to long-term, big picture goals in your education and career.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific: Clearly identify your goal. SMART goals have a desired outcome that can be clearly understood. Define what you will accomplish and what actions will be taken to do so.
  • Measurable: Your goal must be quantifiable in some way. Define what it means to have successfully achieved your goal, whether this is through data you collect, a specific metric, or a final outcome.
  • Achievable: Goals must be realistic in order to achieve them without losing motivation. Even large or long-term goals can be broken down into small, bite-sized chunks.
  • Relevant: Goals should align with your motivation for attending Epicodus. Don’t set goals just to set them, but instead think about how each goal fits within the bigger picture.
  • Time-bound: Give your goal a deadline that you work towards. By setting a time frame to achieve your goal, you can more easily determine your success, and re-evaluate your expectations for future goals if it takes longer than you expect.

For example, let’s take the goal β€œI want to pass my first code review” and turn it into a SMART goal.

I will pass my first code review by reading the assignment instructions and objectives carefully, coding for eight hours, and asking questions to my instructor when I am stuck.

How to Follow Through on Your SMART Goals​

Write it down. Take the time to write your goal down and put it somewhere you’ll see it regularly. This helps your goals to feel concrete and real, and can be a physical reminder of what you are working to achieve.

Tell someone. This can be your advisor, your teacher, a friend, a family member β€” anyone you want who has an active interest in seeing you succeed and supporting you along the way. The act of sharing your goals can help you to feel accountable to achieving them, and give you someone to lean on when roadblocks to achieving your goals inevitably happen.

Evaluate and re-evaluate your progress. Your goals will change and shift. This is a normal part of learning and growing, and a great opportunity to reflect back on how far you’ve come as you evaluate what, if anything, needs to change in the process of reaching your goal. Especially for longer term goals, set aside time at specific points to evaluate how things are going.

Celebrate the wins (big and small). Every goal you achieve deserves celebrating, no matter how small. Take time to reflect on what you’ve done well and what you’ve accomplished before you set your next goal. The journey into tech is a marathon and not a sprint, so allow yourself to enjoy every win, every step of the way.

Putting SMART Goals Into Practice​

Before your first meeting with your advisor, spend some time thinking about your goals and how you want to achieve them. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • What do you want to achieve by the time you complete the Intro to Programming module?
  • What are your goals for your time at Epicodus?
  • Where do you see yourself in 3 years? 5 years? 10 years? What short-term goal that you can achieve in the next month will help you get there?
  • How will you study for Epicodus? How often? When and where?
  • What habits will you build to help you to successfully complete the course?

Your SMART goal can address any, all, or none of these questions. Use this list as a jumping-off point to explore what will motivate you throughout the course, and what is achievable for you.

You can continue to re-evaluate your goals as you progress through Epicodus. They can evolve and change as you continue to learn and grow. Your SMART goals will be unique to you and what you want to achieve in your time at Epicodus, as well as in your career, but be prepared to share at least one of your SMART goals during your first meeting with your advisor.

Career Review​

As a part of your first career review, please create a Google Doc where you write down at least one SMART goal following the exercises outlined in this lesson. You will submit this career review on Epicenter under the Internships class.