As a child, I remember writing an essay on “What do you want to be when you grow up?” If my memory serves me well, I did pretty great in that essay that too without any assignment help to guide me through. Back then, my career choices went from being a firefighter to an astrophysicist, to a pianist, to a wildlife photographer, and many other options that I can’t even recall.
Those were simpler times. Now, I have grown up and like most barely-functioning adults, I too feel growing up is a trap. But let’s face it, we don’t have much of a choice other than going through the grind? Unless someone actually manages to build a time machine (here’s looking at you, Elon Musk).
Your adult lives would seem a little less burdensome when you choose the right career option. This post carries expert tips that helped me find my true calling, and I am sure it would be helpful in your case as well.
1) Got skills? Use ‘em.
Every career demands a different skill set. Teachers need to communicate with both students and their parents, and lawyers need great problem-solving skills.
You must take some time out to discover what you are good at. List out every talent or skill you have, even if it is unlikely to help you land a job (yes, even birdwatching counts).
For instance, being great at playing video games might not seem like a marketable skill. But delve a little deeper, Watson. Find out what exactly it is you are good at. It could be building strategies or decision making. Believe me, it all comes handy (even catching Pokemons) when you venture into a career.
2) Change is the only constant
The internet is crawling with bazillions of “best career” lists. Now, chances are you have already laid your eyes on a couple of them at the very least. These lists may claim that striving for one of the options would be your stairway to success.
However, the truth is, there’s no guarantee of job security and stability. There might be a lot of demand for a career now, but what happens 10 years down the line?
It may not be wise to completely disregard predictions about the prospects that some careers tend to offer. Don’t just go for it because it’s number one on a list somewhere.
Tables can turn anytime, and the job that was once most sought after might not even make it to the lists a few years from now.
3) Explore before you decide
Some people know what they want to do with their lives, and they are happily doing it. Case in point, Dr. Sheldon Cooper. However, for the lesser mortals (the ones that are still clueless about their career), having diverse experiences can help.
You need to build your knowledge about what the world has to offer. This way, it will be convenient for you to come to a decision.
The world is your oyster, so feel free to explore. Taking a variety of classes, or travelling to far-flung places are great ways to start. The more you learn, the more you will realize just how much you need to know.
4) Go for goals
Deciding on a career option may not be the same as soul-searching, but you still need to delve deeper. Ponder over what you want out of a career. Do you want to travel? Do you want to help other people?
If you choose a career that doesn’t align with your long-term objectives, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever feel satisfied with it. It’s also true that goals change over time and things that once held importance became less so. However, it is better to have some clarity on what you want so that you have something to strive for.
5) A tête-à-tête with the experts might help
Having a one-on-one conversation with someone who knows a great deal about the field you are considering can be extremely helpful. The more people you converse with, the better insights you gather. It doesn’t hurt to seek a second (or a third or a fourth) opinion.
Gain sufficient perspective about the pros and cons of a specific career option. Ask the experts whether or not they would choose that specific career if they could go back in time. Also, ask them about the skills they have found to be particularly beneficial.
Job shadowing is another beneficial option for you to consider. Observing someone doing his or her work is much like taking peek into the future. You will also find out if you actually want to do the same work that this individual is doing.
6) Seize the day
The statement, “follow your passion” can sometimes be a fallacy. For instance, you may want to be an astronaut. Won’t it be wise to consider that only a handful of people have actually made the cut (out of a few thousand applicants)? Full marks for being ambitious but it will be wise to count on other job opportunities as well.
Some experts would probably argue that you should focus on the opportunities at hand (instead of going for what you want to do).
7) Internships are the stepping stones
There is no better way to acquire hands-on experience to determine if a career is particularly suitable for you. After all, what can be more impactful than actually doing the work you wish to dedicate your life to?
Secure one or two internships before or while pursuing your graduation. In fact, some even consider getting internship experience earlier on (like during the summer between high school and college). Many organisations accept high school-age interns.
An internship can also allow you to get a foot in the door at a particular organisation you really want to work for.
8) Flexibility is a yardstick to swear by
When you have devoted a lot of time (and money) into training for a career, it can be difficult to admit that you aren’t actually interested. However, living in denial won’t do any good in this case.
Trust me when I say that the number of people stuck in the 9-to-5 rut is too high. The reason they slog it out is because they want to justify the time they invested in preparing for the career.
You can start over any time if you are unhappy with the path you are currently on.
Take a look at the big picture. Acquiring a couple of skills will be worth it if they help you pursue a career you truly love rather than the one that you can barely tolerate.
Being an adult is already hard. Don’t contribute to it by opting for a wrong one. The ideas mentioned above may not be set in stone but considering them will help you to have a career worth cherishing.