A career is defined as an occupation that a person chooses to work in for a significant period of their life, with opportunities for progress and development. So when you decide on a career, you’re deciding on what it is you want to do for the majority of your life, something that will be sufficient for you financially and has opportunities for growth.
That is quite the decision to be making fresh out of high school and university. When you graduate from high school, you need to make the decision on what you want to study in university, which will (obviously) have an effect on what career you’ll be able to get into. And when you graduate from university, you have to find the job that will be the starting point of your career.
So, where does one start? And how does one choose?
Take a look at yourself
Start by doing a little self-assessment. What are your interests? What are your skills? What are your hobbies? What is your personality type? What are your values? What are your ideals? What are your dislikes? How are your communication skills?
Analysing the details about yourself will give you a good idea of immediate yes and no career options. If you were never good with numbers, then going into accountancy really won’t be enjoyable for you, for example.
Career guidance counselling
Self-assessments aren’t always as comprehensive, accurate or objective as we need them or would like them to be. But don’t worry, there are career guidance counsellors out there who are qualified to set up tests for you and give you informed opinions on your career options. Through a psychometric and aptitude test, these counsellors can give you a top five list of career options that would suit you based on your test results.
And these results will give you a clearer idea of the career paths you should be drawn to and move towards.
Research potential occupations
Now, along with the occupations given to you by the career counsellor, you should compile a list of all the potential occupations that you find yourself interested in. Then you need to do some research on them. Articles are a great place to start for general information and job outlook statistics, but when you start narrowing down a “top few” list, it’s time to dig a little deeper.
Find people who are currently in those occupations and working towards a career that’s the same as those on your list. Have an interview-like meeting with them and ask for some personal insight about the business. From these interviews and people’s experiences, you can get a better picture of what exactly your occupation and career entails. The nitty gritty, like constant overtime, a life of meetings, unexpected client management and anything else that may sway your interest away or anchor you down on your initial instinct.
Intern and shadowing
With all the information at hand, your next step will be to gain some experience for yourself. Hearing it second-hand by someone in the business may be a slightly more dressed-up or dressed-down description of what it’s really like, so it’s important to find internships and job shadowing opportunities.
Try to get in wherever you can that is in line with your career interests and get some experience. Remember that the purpose of this experience is to see who does what and find out how people got to where they are. They likely started where you are today and build themselves up from there. Take every opportunity to get involved and try your hand at proper tasks. Share your ideas in brainstorming sessions and see how they match to others’ ideas. These exercises will all give you insight as to whether or not you can see yourself enjoying and thriving in that type of career.
List your goals
After your research and first-hand experience, you’ll be able to choose a career to get started in. And before you have your first-day on the job, make a list of your career goals. Have a three, five and 10-year plan and do whatever it is you need to to get there.
Without having these goals in the back of your mind, you risk not growing and reaching your full potential which, in turn, will lead you to get bored and feel unaccomplished in your chosen dream career. Then it’s a case of considering a different career when that isn’t actually the problem.
Industry and company
Another scenario where you may think your career choice is flawed when, in fact, it’s not, is when you’re simply in the wrong industry. You’re enjoying the work, the occupation is the right one and the career track is getting there, but you find that you’re not quite happy. What’s the issue?
In this case, you may just be in the wrong industry. Many careers can happen in various industries and it’s important to find the industry that is in line with your interests or hobbies because then you know you’ll be able to enjoy it. The same goes for the company. It’s important to gel with the company’s people and values and if you don’t, there are other companies in that industry with your occupation and chosen career out there.