Study history and you might find that there used to be a time when career choices often boiled down to a handful of labour-intensive jobs. Would you rather be a blacksmith or a farmer? Is digging for potatoes better than smashing hot iron all day?
When we see society advance and technology become more sophisticated, innovation can become a norm and along with that, a multitude of career opportunities may be available at any given time. However, this abundance of choice might leave us perplexed and often feeling lost.
Students at the very starting line of their professional lives could find themselves burdened by the overwhelming fear of going down the wrong career route but, unlike their predecessors, you might find today’s younger generation prioritising happiness over mere practicality and that instead of dragging themselves to work each day for the next 20 years, they want to merrily skip all the way to the office.
On top of this, when existing career paths fluctuate, are created and disrupted, the decision to opt for one direction can become all the more difficult.
So, what can you as a youngster do to ensure your career direction is valid? Here are several tips to help guide you along towards a brighter future.
Don’t think of your career as being smooth sailing
If you approach a career option in the hopes that you’ll love every single part of your job and that you’ll never face a single day of stress in your professional life, you might be sorely disappointed.
Do something you’re passionate about but realise that there will likely be days when you just don’t want to do it. There may also be many things you kind of hate about whatever job you choose. You might love the process of graphic design but hate creating SOP documentation. You might love being a reporter but hate the long-distance travel.
Thinking of life as being straightforward could be detrimental so instead, consider the pros and cons of your career choice and decide which career is worth choosing (in totality), taking the good and bad parts of that career together.
What do you believe in?
This is an integral question that you should ask yourselves in times of doubt. You might often hear about how you need to find your passion to have a fulfilling career but isn’t passion typically derived from beliefs and values?
Identify what you believe in, instead of just choosing careers based on the money you could earn. Once you’ve established your beliefs, you should be able to more clearly see what career directions might best suit you. Money can come more easily once you find something that gives you a sense of purpose and is willing to work hard.
Find something that pays the bills
Sure, choosing a career based solely on the ‘money factor’ may not be 100% correct, however, you should still consider something that can realistically pay the bills. Don’t expect financial obligations to wait for your success so pay attention to the demand and potential for financial growth in the career direction you’re eyeing.
Your dream job could be to live off revenue from making fine art but your actual job may be consulting businesses on brand logos.
Identify the core aspects of your passion and then apply these to the real world and make an impact on the market to find out whether your passion can actually help you survive/thrive.
Consider multiple skill development
Stop looking at careers as arduous commitments that require you to do one thing for the rest of your life. Start seeing careers as demands for skillsets.
A salesperson should develop skills like negotiation, communication and management. A web developer will probably need skills like design, software and psychology.
Try to define the skills that you already have and the skills that you’re going to need to develop in order to excel at the career of your choice. With this new mindset, you could be in better shape to realistically find a career direction and, as a bonus, identify transferrable skills that make you relevant in more than 1 field so you have more options in the future.