So you’re about to finish high school and you don’t know what comes next, or you’re in a degree/apprenticeship and not sure if you should change, or you’re like me and about to graduate uni and you STILL don’t know what comes next.
Last year Skillsroad got a lot of you to complete a youth census and those who responded were pretty concerned about making the decision of what to do for a career and were also worried that they won’t like what they choose. I am definitely part of this majority and having been in the midst of some big career decisions myself I can definitely relate. It is STRESSFUL. Something I have realised though, is that no matter what stage we are at, there will always be career decisions to be made, so it’s about time that we became better at making them!
I think many of us (even subconsciously) still believe that we need to pick just one career path and that we had better get it right because we are stuck in it forever. This creates a whole lot of unnecessary stress and it just isn’t correct. Our generation is predicted to have 17 jobs over 5 different careers, so the worry that we put ourselves through over deciding where to start is really unnecessary.
Also, it can sometimes feel like the potential paths we could take are overwhelming. Who knew being spoilt for choice could be so stressful!? The workforce is changing at such a fast rate because of things like new technology and changes to how people choose to work, for example the increase in freelance work (think Uber, Deliveroo etc.). What this means is that we probably don’t know enough about all the options which are available to us, and chances are that our parents (who are likely the people we go to for career advice) aren’t experts either. This means that we need to be smart about how we approach career decisions. Although the stress can make you want to bury your head in the sand, there are a few strategies I use which make it easier:
Listen to everyone, then make up your own mind
Everyone will have an opinion on what they think you should do and on top of this, not all the information you hear will be accurate. In my personal experience, I’ve sometimes found it difficult to find the information I’ve needed, even when I thought I was asking the right person. The key here is to keep asking! Find someone you know who has been in a similar position or is doing a job you think you might like and get in contact! You will probably be surprised how willing they are to help you out, because they have likely been in the same position at one point in their life. Also make sure to ask a variety of people, for example careers advisors can be really useful, your teachers/lecturers/tutors, as well as people who have experience in the career/degree/apprenticeship you’re thinking about. Once you have listened to a few different people, you’ll be able to make up your own mind.
Imagine your future self
Something I have found really useful is imagining myself in the future. What am I doing? What is my lifestyle like? What does a typical day look like? Take your time to think about it and think in as much detail as you can. Once you can imagine the future you want, it’s time to work backwards by thinking, what do I need to do to get there?
Try it out!
A really effective way of making career decisions is to give something a go. You might be able to do work experience through your school or even organise to spend a day volunteering. In year 10 I thought I wanted to be a dentist, so I organised to spend a day in my local dentist’s office and lucky I did, because I very quickly realised that I didn’t have the stomach for it after watching a root canal! In the third year of my psychology degree I was curious about positive psychology, which was something that my uni didn’t offer. I found out about a one-month program in the Netherlands online and it was probably the best thing that I have ever done.
Look at what you currently like doing
You may not realise it, but you can gain a lot of insight into what you might want from a future career path by looking at the things you currently enjoy doing and are good at. These are likely the times when you’re using your strengths and if you can notice these and choose a career path that is aligned with them, you’ll probably find work much more enjoyable! For example, whilst working in a retail boutique I had the opportunity to manage social media accounts and write some blog posts and I realised that I loved using my creativity. This is something I will keep in mind when making decisions about my future, because I know I’m at my best when I’m using my strengths.
If you only take one thing away from reading this, let it be the fact that if you find career choices overwhelming you are not alone, but by making sure that you seek out all the information and experience that you possibly can, you’ll be in the best position to make a good choice!
Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash