Having been sheltered by lessons and assignments since the age of about 5, naturally it’s hard to know what you’ll want from the ‘real world’. Yet, from an early age we are constantly asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. So, at what point are we supposed to discover what career path is right for us, and how?
When it comes to skills and qualifications, we’re told to make our first choices at the age of 14. What GCSEs we choose can affect what A-Levels we can take, the A-Levels we get then dictate which subjects we may go on to study at University. Then we’re left wondering what career our qualifications can place us into, and whether we have changed our minds since we were 14, or even since we chose our degree subject.
Personally, I think that with work, if you can do well to ignore people’s opinions on it, you have the ability and freedom to change your job sector as often as you want. As long as you can swing your transferable skills, then it’s not against the rules to chop and change quite a few times in your working life.
Here are some simple ways that I think you can find out your interests and what you might fancy as a career. While I know they’re not applicable to all industries, see what you can make of them:
There are lots of resources online that explore different sectors, looking at what each job role is about, the qualifications you’ll need and the hours and salary associated with each. Job sites such as Prospects provide all of the details you’d need to see if a particular job sparks your interest and then discover your career path from there.
They do offer a careers quiz, asking you what types of tasks you’d like to do in your job and what your interests are. From this, they offer you suggestions of what you could consider for a career and what path to take. However, the last time I did this quiz I got told I should be an electrician so I’m not really sure what their calculations are based on…
Read some books
There are a range of books that can help you when making your career decisions. I found that I was interested in marketing and SEO from reading books about it – these were introductory resources that I found on Amazon.
By reading books that teach you the basic outline of certain skillsets and roles, you can find out if it’s something you’re interested in while sat at home on the sofa. Plus, if it turns out you don’t want to do it, you’ve probably only wasted about £10 but you’ve gained some new knowledge that you can put into practice and help boost your CV.
Start your own thing and see if you like it
The other day I overheard someone ask a recruiter, “so if I have a degree in Chemistry, but I’ve decided I want to work around social media, will my CV be disregarded because of my degree?”. If you find yourself in this situation, why not try your own thing?
Sure, some things are less simple to do by yourself on a budget or with little experience – maybe carpentry is one to leave to the professionals – but try and think of innovative ways that you can showcase your skills and motivation to go that extra bit further.
If you want to go into social media, start your own accounts that post about new trends; if you fancy coding, try an online system such as Codecademy; if you want to go into journalism, write your own news reports on a blog.
Begin by showing initiative for things, by starting your own thing you’ll see if it’s something you truly enjoy and want to put your time into. If you wouldn’t put your spare time into it, do you really want to do it as a career?
If you have professionals around you, ask them for advice and information about what they do for a job and see if it’s something you like the sound of.
While a network of business leaders isn’t exactly a common thing to most at such a young age, demonstrate your desire by approaching people within the industry you’d like to get into. Take a look on LinkedIn and see who’s posting in your area of interest, try to engage in conversations with these people and seek advice from them.
Know that it’s okay not to have one
Many young professionals are scared by the thought of being in one job or one industry for thirty years, as that has been the norm for our parents or grandparents. It’s okay to swap careers, industries and company, and is very important when you feel yourself start to get bored or not develop any further. If you want to switch industry, you might want to read this blog about getting a job in a field unrelated to your degree and work experience.
I’d love to hear about how you plan to discover your career path and knowing what you want to do! Why not leave a comment below to help out other grads?
If you want any more help on this topic, check out my blog post all about gaining experience for a job when you’ve never had one.