Career Choice
How to Choose A Career Path When You Don’t Know What You Want to Be
Careers in Depth
Career Choice
How to Choose A Career Path When You Don’t Know What You Want to Be
Careers in Depth

Do you freeze with doubt every time someone asks you what you want to do when you leave school? You may be feeling as if all your friends have made up their minds about their passions and careers while you haven’t. Or perhaps you’re an all-rounder and choosing subjects feels like a wild guess.

As you move towards the end of your schooling career, the pressure around making decisions about your future peaks. During this time, you’re required to choose your A level subjects and decide what to study at university – choices that can determine the direction of the rest of your life! These are two major decisions people need to make at a very young age, and if you’re fighting an internal battle of uncertainty around your career path, it can be extremely stressful.

Not knowing exactly what it is you want to be just yet is a common problem among students - understandably so! If you’re feeling lost and unsure of what career path you want to pursue, there are some steps you can take to find the clarity you need to help you decide.

Step 1: Accept uncertainty

The first step is realising that it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers right now. Whether you are completely directionless with regards to your future or if you are considering a range of different paths, try not to fall into the trap of over-worrying and second-guessing if you are choosing the right career.

As a teenager entering your early twenties,you are bound to grow, change and evolve into a more self-aware version of yourself in the years ahead of you. This evolution often brings a change in mindset, values and motivations and can often alter your views on your career and what you want to be.

Remember that the choices you make now around your future career path are never final. Choosing Science as a subject in high school doesn’t necessarily bind you to a scientific future for all eternity if that’s not what you want. Every step you take, even if you change direction, can bring you closer to finding what is right for you.

Step 2: Take some time to reflect

One of the most important factors that play a role in choosing a career that fulfils you, is self-awareness. Knowing yourself will help you choose a career that is aligned with your interests, satisfies your passions and matches your natural preferences. By taking sometime to reflect and understand yourself better, you will be more likely to choose a career where you can be your authentic self.

Take some time alone to reflect and think about what motivates you, what your strengths are, what you want out of a career, what brings you joy, what excites you and what you dread doing. It maybe helpful to keep a journal and write about these questions.

It’s also important during this step to remember that pursuing subjects where you achieve the best marks, doesn’t always result in the right career choice. Try not to be dazzled by your ability or grades for a particular subject if it isn’t what truly interests you. Think carefully about which subjects pair success with your interests rather than being blinded by your best marks.

In your reflection, consider some of the external pressures that may be affecting your decision too. Your career choice should be based upon the desires of your inner self, rather than those of your parents or teachers.

Step 3: Explore and do your research

It’s tough to decide on a career path when you know very little about what the job entails. Many people experience disappointment in their careers when they realise after studying, that the job they pursued is not quite what they expected.

To make an informed decision, exploring fields that interest you and doing some research around the different roles involved is a great place to start looking for clarity. Think about a field that interests you and research what potential positions exist in that industry. Read up about the various positions to find out more about what they actually do; how they spend their time, what the requirements are, what the perks and downfalls are, what the companies look like who hire these people and what success looks like.

Step 4: Talk to professionals in your fields of interest

Once you have an idea of some potential career paths, an excellent way to understand more about it and see if it could be a fit for you, is to talk to professionals who are already working in that career. Some helpful questions to ask these professionals could be:

•   What path did they follow to get to their current position?

•   What do they love about their career?

•   What do they dislike about their job?

•   What do they spend most of their time doing? Where?

•   Who do they work with?

•   What are their clients like?

•   Why do they do what they do?

While every person has their own unique reasons for pursuing their chosen career, talking to people already working in your field of interest will give you different perspectives and new information to consider.

Step 5: Do some work shadowing

Another helpful step towards figuring out what career path you want to follow is to spend some time shadowing people working in jobs that you feel you may be interested in. Spending time with professionals while they work will give you a true reflection of what daily life in this position is like. It’s important to have as accurate an idea of the career as possible to know if it is something aligns with your interests,strengths and personality.

Get help from a professional career consultant

Looking at yourself is not always easy and making decisions about the future often brings discomfort as you say goodbye to your childhood. If you’d like some professional guidance on the next steps in choosing a career, our career consultants can help you explore your options.

We’d love to chat with you and help you make an informed decision about your future. Book a consultation with one of our experienced consultants.


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