The most important part of career planning is realizing, “It’s all about me”

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As my graduation is quickly approaching, I’ve come to realize the most important part of career planning: self-awareness.

While reflecting on the past four years of my university career, my summer and part-time work experiences, I’ve realized I know a few simple things about myself that will be invaluable when I’m working toward a happy and successful career in the future.

My summer job experiences have ranged from manual labour, to working in the fast food industry, to working an office at a large corporation.  I applied for many jobs before I got my first “real” 9-to-5 desk job and was quite relieved and happy when I landed a good office job.

The job had steady hours and paid more than any other work experience I have had.  It was also the most unfulfilling work position I have ever had.  I didn’t like sitting all day. I didn’t like doing a repetitive and independent task.  The work was not rewarding and I didn’t like commuting to work.

I learned that although I am an introverted person, I like working in an environment that requires me to be social and collaborative.  I like having the chance to be creative and I like interacting with customers, clients or co-workers.  In short, I much preferred serving coffee and cleaning counters over sitting at a desk all day.

Throughout university, I spent lots of time researching careers but easily became overwhelmed and more confused by the vast number of options available.  Had I been pushed to realize these simple, but important, personality traits about myself earlier, researching career options would have been much more beneficial than it was.

It is easy to think “I want to be graphic designer” or “I want to be a lawyer” without considering whether or not you’d like to sit staring at a computer all day or whether you can handle a consistently stressful work environment.

After completing my unfulfilling office position, I learned that recognizing how my personality traits fit into the everyday aspects of a job will determine whether or not I love or loathe going to work everyday.

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