Picking a degree can be a daunting prospect if you aren’t yet sure what you’d like to do as a career. Pursuing a career that is relevant to your interests and skills makes a lot of sense, but you might find that the reality of the job doesn’t sync with the lifestyle you want to lead.
This week we are going to look at how turning “What job do I want to do?” into “How do I want to live?” can help you to approach your options from a fresh perspective.
Planning the life you want to live
If you're having trouble narrowing down your options - or even if you're approaching the problem from a totally blank slate - looking at your options in terms of the lifestyle they provide can help bring some much needed clarity.
Language skills can take you all over the world – but do you really want to work so far away from home? Maybe you’d make a great executive – but are you happy with working a 9-5? You could be a whiz behind the camera – but are you comfortable with the instability that comes with being a freelancer?
Let's make a list
To get started, write a list of all the things you know you want your job to offer you. Try not to focus on specific industries. Instead, look at it in terms of rewards and benefits:
- Long-term security, or the ability to work flexibly?
- Sky-high wages, or doing something you love?
- Working in an office, or spending more time outdoors?
- International travel, or staying close to your friends and family?
- Being part of a global business, or working with a small independent?
Once you’ve made your list, start comparing it to the courses and careers that you are considering. Can your options offer you the lifestyle that you want to lead? If they don't, are you happy with the trade-offs?
Finding a career that can offer you your dream lifestyle is difficult. Thinking about it early will give you the best possible chance of success.
The people around you can be a great source of career inspiration. Think about the people you know who are already working. What do they like about their job, and what would they change if they could? What gets them out of bed in the morning?
Talk to people. Find out how they ended up where they are. Ask them about their mistakes. Ask them about their successes. Many people have stood at the start of their adult life with the exact same questions that you have – capitalise on their experience.
A word of warning: sometimes the most experienced people in your life can also be the most cynical. Be wary of someone who tells you what you can or can’t achieve.
Use the web
The internet is a great resource to use when planning for your future. We’ve brought together some tips and resources that you might find helpful:
- Get yourself a LinkedIn account – and use it! Find people who are doing the kind of work that you are considering. Where did they study? How quickly did they progress? Don’t be shy – send connection requests and ask questions.
- Use online careers advice tools. The idea of doing a career quiz might seem quaint, but it might be just the thing you need to get you thinking about the future. The career planner on prospects.ac.uk seems to be best of the bunch.
- Fast-forward three years and take a look at the kind of jobs you’d be applying for as a graduate. What kind of skills do they ask for? Do the courses you are interested in provide those skills.
- There’s no better way to see if a career is for you then actually giving it a go. The web has made businesses more accessible than ever, so reach out and ask about work experience opportunities. Even one or two days’ worth of work shadowing will give you some invaluable insight.
Finally, don’t let it cause you any distress. With a bit of forward thinking and support you’ll be sure to make a decision that you can be proud of.
If you need advice, please don’t hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check back next week for a new post and activity. We'll be trying to help you decide if university study is the best route for you. Have a good week!
Tasks for this week
- Write a list of all the things you want your career to offer you.
- Talk to the people around you. Learn from their experience, but be wary of cynics.
- Use some of the online careers advice tools that we have mentioned above to get a better idea of what is available to you.
- And finally, relax. Stress leads to rash decisions - keep cool and make a decision in your own time.