Choosing a career can place a lot of pressure on young people and all at a time when they are trying to study.
A good strategy to reduce the stress of choosing a career pathway is to focus on the “process” of selecting a career rather than your actual choice – or absence of choice. In other words, put your energy into researching your options.
There are thousands of career options out there as well as practical steps to take to figure out what you might be suited to. Research shows that school leavers will have three to five careers during their working life so there is no need to worry about making a wrong choice that you have to live with forever. A young person’s first choice will rarely be their last. If you are in Years 9 or 10, you can take your time. Set aside a little time every month to explore relevant websites, visit a career show or talk to a member of your personal network about their job.
Even if you are in Year 10 and planning to leave or in Year 12, there is still a lot you can do to explore your options.
How do you know what you are suited to?
Many people choose a career path based on what a parent does for a living or the fact they are good at a particular subject. For example, choosing journalism because you are good at English or accounting because you are good at math. This is not a bad approach but it doesn’t really explore your suitability for a job. Being a good fit for a job is not just about academic or technical ability. You also need to have the right personality type, learning preferences and enjoy the type of environment that goes with the job.
I’ve often heard people say they want to be a vet because they love animals. However, treating animals can be emotionally tough so another animal-related field might suit you better. Police officers are there to enforce the law but they do a lot of community work as well so being a “people person” is important and so on.
By researching a job role and talking to someone who actually does the kind of work you are contemplating you can make a better assessment of whether the role is right for you.
Also, talk to your parents about your strengths and personality type so you can find a career path that suits the way you like to operate. For instance, someone with a big personality who likes to talk to people might fair better in a job like sales or customer service but flounder in a job where they must work quietly and alone.
To help you get started, work through these questions alone or with family and friends:
- What are you really good at and love doing?
- What are you are good at but hate doing?
- What do you love doing but are not that great at?
- What are you not good at and hate doing?
As you learn about job roles and employment sectors you will be able to drill down on the tasks involved in a typical day in the job and figure out which might be more of a fit for you.