Design your career

Design your career
Joseph Donia
Joseph Donia (Psychology ’10) is the founder of Huddle Innovation, a consultancy that works with service-based organizations to create new sources of value for service users and providers.

I’ve always known that I wanted my career to help people in an innovative way, but when I began university I wasn’t entirely sure what that would look like. So, I started my journey at Ryerson in the Psychology department. It seemed like a natural fit for my curiosity about people and what makes them tick. After graduating, I decided to go out on my own rather than find an entry level job or internship, founding a social media and content marketing company. But there were still so many topics that interested me, which I felt could be better integrated with my career – behavioural economics, decision making, and innovation were just a few. All of these are increasingly important to our ever-connected society, and I knew I wanted to be part of that. But how?

I set out to learn as much as I could about these subjects, and strategize how they might be applied as a new and exciting direction for my company. I found myself immersed in topics that I hadn’t revisited in nearly 10 years – like logic and rational discourse from a required first-year course – and I loved it!

I now run Huddle, a service design and innovation consultancy. In many developed economies, services account for upwards of 75% of GDP, yet until recently, these services were largely developed by patchwork. My role is to bridge the gap between what people really need in their lives, and how organizations can best use their resources to meet those needs with new and innovative service models. Through a loosely iterative process of empathy, definition, ideation, prototyping, and testing, service designers around the world are improving experiences for service users and deliverers, from oncology patients to public transit operators.

The connections, experiences and academic training I received have made this career possible. But my path would never have been clear to me if I hadn’t known my purpose. We all have a purpose – a north star. Some of us take longer to figure out what it is, or how we can live it, but we all have one. For some, like me, it’s making people’s lives easier. For others, it’s creative expression, or community organization, or social justice.

Your purpose should be an intangible goal – a desired future state that you want to contribute to. From here, you can research and define potential career options based on your skills, experiences, abilities, and of course, what society really needs.

You can also test out new directions through volunteering or continued education. Entirely investing yourself in a field without considering other options is much riskier than trying different directions on for size first. With that knowledge and experience in-hand, you can choose the path that’s right for you.

In doing so, you will actively be designing your career and indeed your life as a whole. Focus on what society really needs, define your purpose, brainstorm the career options, test them, and measure their appropriateness for you.

5 thoughts on “Design your career”

  1. This gives me a lot to think about. I think we all get so caught up in our day to day lives, that we don’t take time to explore what our purpose is. Neat post to read and be inspired by.

  2. This is definitely a great read and tool to understand a purpose driven career. Planning ahead is always best but difficult given the pressures of everyday life so great approaches here, in my opinion.

  3. I retired from the workforce in 2005 and have since been very actively engaged in both community and personal activities that are making my retirement years enjoyable (at least so far.)

    In my opinion, there is great merit in what Joseph is saying particularly around developing purpose. The one cautionary word of advice I would suggest is that purpose alone is only part of the equation. There must be someone to share this journey of life and there must be checkpoints along the way to ensure reality and above all a sense of worth and fun.

    My journey has had purpose but that purpose has changed over the years as my needs, experience and lifestyle changes. Perhaps the theme should be “purpose with the ability to change” as personal circumstances dictate.

  4. A year ago I realized that I needed a change so I left my full time position to start my own business. It’s been a challenging yet rewarding experience but I’m not convinced that I want to do this until I retire. I would like to find something where I feel as if I’m making a difference and reading this blog helped me refocus and ask questions. Thank you for sharing.

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