So, you haven’t a clue what to do or where to go for career advice or information, right? Choosing a career is a major decision that will impact on your life as a whole, so you need to act on reliable information and solid advice from someone or somewhere trustworthy. My career related decisions would have been far easier if I’d had the right career advice.
Take a good, honest look at yourself
Ask yourself, “What would I do if I didn’t have to work and could do anything at all?” The answer you come up with might not be the one you should pursue but it will give you some insight. If the answer is something really out of the ordinary or very unrealistic, consider something that is in a related field. For instance, if you would love to become a veterinarian but you can’t, find another way of working with and caring for animals.
Often looking at your hobbies is more useful than thinking about your “dream” job. A sure-fire way to be happy at work is to be doing something you really enjoy or love doing. What do you do in your free time for pure enjoyment? For example, if you love to draw or paint, consider a career in art, graphic design, or animation. Similarly, the subjects that you enjoy at school can give you strong hints about where your interests and abilities lie. Do you love English? What about becoming a journalist or an editor?
Next, consider your skills (things you have learned to be good at) and talents (innate abilities you have). Do you have smart hands that are good at fixing things or can you play a musical instrument, for example? Many of these can be used as or in a career. When looking at skills think about ones we sometimes don’t consider such as interpersonal skills as they are important in most jobs and essential in others such as social work or psychology.
Examine your current situation
Much as we wish it were different, our financial situation impacts on our career choices. Certain careers require studies through a college or university. If the fees are beyond your reach, I advise you to investigate opportunities for bursaries or scholarships and apprenticeships. Your ability to change career later in life is also affected by your finances as you may have a range of responsibilities. However, view a lack of funds as a challenge rather than an insurmountable obstacle.
Consider your future
When thinking about your future in relation to a career, consider several aspects. Firstly, the enjoyment and or sense of satisfaction your work gives you are important considerations. Secondly, when selecting a career one ideally wants to choose one that offers a good level of financial security so that you can support yourself and your family. Finally, when considering careers, my advice is to look at the market demand for the job and at growth prospects. You want to be in a field that will be around for at least the duration of your work life.
Be a little flexible if necessary
Remember that very few people know right away what career is right for them. If it takes a while, even a couple of years, before you find your path… don’t worry! You are not unusual. Also, a career is not written in stone; if you are unhappy in it, change it. If you are older and have responsibilities it will be tougher to do so, but it can still be done.
Who can I talk to? Where can I go?
Speak to your parents, siblings, friends and teachers. Often the way others see us is very different to the way we perceive ourselves, and asking about it can help us to see ourselves and our abilities, skills, and attributes differently and in a fresh way. They may also come up with great new ideas.
You could also talk to a guidance counselor or teacher at school who will be able to give you career advice or point you in the direction of other resources that can. There are also agencies or organizations in the large centers of most countries that will administer career aptitude and skills tests that may help to clarify matters for you and will help you to match your results to available career options. In addition, there are advisors at colleges and universities who offer this kind of service too.