How to Find the Career which is meant for You - Part 01
If you speak to thirty different people about what they think the right career path for you is, you will most likely get thirty different responses. Finding the right ‘career’ path has never been the easiest task but as generation Z, it’s only become even more difficult. A ‘job for life’ is truly a thing of the past as it is estimated that a person will go through at least 6 different career paths or jobs in their lifetime.
Ultimately, before giving some practical tips and advice on how to begin to unpick careers and options post-education, here is some older-sibling-like advice. The average lifespan of females in the UK is currently 82.9 years, and for men it is 79.2. So, try to reduce the stress you feel at the tender age of 14, 15 and 16 on making a decision about your life-long career. Careers aren’t going anywhere and recruitment will always be available. If you start a career path at the age of 18 and only 7 years later realise you’re not enjoying the job, well, you’ll only be 25 years old. You still have more than half your life to come. Consequently, you may find that you leave the job you’re at and have a go at something different. It’s also why you should realise that it’s okay if you don’t know what you want to do right now.
It’s precisely because of the fluctuation in an individual’s life that you see so many people taking gap years, going abroad, beginning postgraduate degrees and beginning their own companies on the side of a day job. As you go through the years, opportunities will come and go which you never expected. You will, more than likely, make spontaneous decisions and jump from one post to another without it having been a step in your ‘life plan’.
And with those words (of wisdom?), let’s discuss some more practical advice and steps which you can take on the journey of the careers.
Firstly, you need to analyse your character - which, again, is something which will change and fluctuate over time. There are two strong arguments to the argument of character and personality. One argument is that you should simply do what you love. That is, you should pursue your passions, make it a career and become the best in your field. That way, you will be doing what you love, living a real life, and make an income from it. On the other hand, the other argument goes that you cannot just ‘do what you enjoy’. Rather you should look at your skill set and best utilise it to get a job which almost guarantees financial stability. As you can see, whilst both arguments hold some logic, they directly contradict and provide conflicting advice. But fear not, we’re here to advise you to take the middle ground. But before we do, let’s go back to understanding how one should dissect their character and personality.
There will always be some skills and talents innate to each individual - it’s just a matter of knowing what they are. In order to discover where your skills and talents lay, you need to get involved in a wide variety of different projects and events. Particularly ones which are outside of your comfort zone. It is only by exposing yourself to new experiences that you will be able to learn more about yourself. We’ll discuss work experience later on, but the same can be said about work experience - you need as much exposure as possible. Looking back, I realise that I’ve always been a person to seek adventure, and new experiences just for the fun of it. Over my secondary school years, I particularly looked to take part in every single opportunity going. From the poetry competitions (I cannot creatively write to save my life - but I made it into the Young Writers books!), to the Food rep meetings, cross country club and STEM competitions, I did everything. I can’t say I had a particular love for much of what I took part in but through each new experience, I learnt a tonne about myself. The cross country club taught me that I was actually quite competitive - and that fitness is for everyone since even I had managed to be roped in! The STEM competitions taught me that I will probably never go into the field of engineering (though 3D printing was quite exciting).
It doesn’t matter what year you’re in, or whether you’re not even in school anymore, it’s never too late to get involved in new experiences. If you’re in year 12; about to consider courses at university or apprenticeships and similar schemes, and you don’t know what to do, you do need to spend your free time wisely. You don’t have to commit to designing a whole new display board for the school reception, or to come up with a perfect solution for a current issue in society, but you do need to try and dip your toe into different things. If your parent works in healthcare, go in for an evening after school and see what they do, and what their jobs involve. If the sight of helping people wash and clothe themselves, or of cleaning up vomiting babies doesn’t appeal to you, you know not to go into healthcare! Hurrah, that’s something which you’ve learnt about yourself.
You could also try online personality quizzes. They’ve recently become quite popular though I would say that nothing can beat first-hand exposure to different experiences.
Once you’ve got a bit of a list about yourself - which you might have split it into academic interests, extracurricular interests, skills and interpersonal qualities, you’re as ready as you can be to start looking into the wide world of careers.
This will be discussed in part 2 of the series on ‘What Career is Right for you?’