Whether you’re a teen trying to decide which courses to take in college or you’re an adult trying to make a better future for yourself, choosing a suitable career can be a difficult decision. If there a few things that appeal to you, it could be a case of just narrowing it down, but if you have no idea where to start when you need to choose a career, you may have a long process ahead of you. Many people stick with their chosen career for the rest of their working lives, so it won’t be as simple as tossing a coin. You will have to put effort into choosing something that’s right for you. Here are some of the things you’ll need to think about.
Before you choose a career path, it’s important to know your own skills and interests. Sit down and make a list of what you’re good at, what you’re bad at and what you enjoy. What are your values? What is your personality type? You could try using a career quiz online. It will ask you about yourself and generate a list of potential careers that could be a good fit for you. Alternatively, you could visit a career counsellor. Most schools have access to them or you can arrange a meeting with one at your local college or university. They’ll discuss your options with you and give you some suggestions on how you might proceed.
It’s all well and good choosing a career that you’ll enjoy right now, but it’s also important to look to the future too. Do you want to be earning the same amount as you are now in ten years’ time? For many people, the whole point of studying hard to attain a chosen career is the potential for earning more as the years go on. Think about the careers you are interested and figure out whether there’s potential for you to earn more the longer you work. It’s also about having a good challenge. If you enter a career and five years down the line you feel like you’re stuck in the mud, and unable to learn anything new, the job could become boring quickly.
Explore Everything First
It’s really difficult to narrow down a few interesting careers to one straight away, so don’t! Make a list of the careers that really grab your attention and you think you could do well. Do some research on each career type. For example, if you’re interested in becoming a nurse, look at some job opportunities for nurses. Find out if people in these careers are happy in their jobs. Would they advise that you enter the same career as them? You could also try and arrange some volunteer work, so you get a first-hand look at what goes on in the industry. It’s a try before you buy concept so you can be sure you choose the right path for you without having any regrets later on.
What Do They Expect of You?
Sometimes, the way we imagine certain jobs isn’t really how they turn out to be. For example, you may imagine a job in a Zoo as cuddles with baby animals, instead of the reality of cleaning up faeces and having to say goodbye to animals who fall ill. There will be bad aspects of every job; it wouldn’t be called a job if there weren’t. It’s important to imagine the worst-case scenario and find out as much as you can about what your chosen job involves. You can get a good idea by downloading some job descriptions for specific roles you’re interested in. But, the best way to get an all-round view of what a job will entail is to ask someone who already does it.
Make a Shortlist
Once you’ve considered all of the above, you should be able to create a short-list of careers you’re still interested in. There may have been a few things that put you off pursuing the rest. Aim for no more than five careers on your shortlist, or fewer if you’re able to. One of the best ways to finalise your short list is to think about the amount of education it will take to achieve the careers you’re interested in. For example, if you want to be a veterinary assistant, you could only have to study for one year. However, if you want to be a lawyer it could be two to three years, or a doctor is four or more. How much time do you have to spare to conduct your studies before you need to start earning? Teenagers are lucky enough to be able to have the pick of the bunch, but adults who want a change in career may have to think about time and money more thoroughly when making their choice.
Thinking about the amount of time you have to study should have helped you to narrow down the list further. So, now you need to gather as much information about your chosen careers as possible before making a final decision. Again, the best way to do this is often to speak to people who are already working in those careers, but be wary of the setting. Businesses and industries often send representatives to recruit new workers, so if you see someone sat at a desk ready to answer your questions, you may not get the full view. For example, someone trying to encourage students to become teachers may forget to tell them about the hours of work you have to do at home and focus more on the weeks of Summer vacation they could get off.
Use your intuition and talk to someone you know will tell you the truth – the good, bad and ugly.
You should also be able to find reviews on specific businesses by doing some online searches. Employees will often leave reviews of what it’s like to work for a company online. However, if you can’t find any, you may have to dig a little deeper. Try and organise some interviews with company employees and explain that you’re interested in a realistic view of what it’s like to work in that career.
Identify Your Goals
It’s almost time to make your decision, and you’re probably coming close to knowing what your choice will be. Before settling on something, think about your future. What do you envision for yourself? What do you hope to achieve in your career? Sometimes, it’s difficult to know until you’re actually there and doing it. But, having some career goals before you start will mean you can hit the ground running and impress your superiors.
Once you’ve made a choice, the real work starts. Now, it’s time to make that dream a reality, but how do you do it? Try creating an action plan, so you know the steps you need to take in order to succeed. Do you need to study? Can you do it full-time or part-time? How will you finance your study? There are many things to consider when you want a new career. When you lay it all out in front of you, it can seem like a mammoth task. So, try and take it a step at a time. Getting to where you want to be could take a few years, so don’t put pressure on yourself to do it as quickly as humanly possible. Take your time and do it right.
Starting a new career certainly isn’t easy, but it is worth it!