I’m In My Final Year Of School And I Have Absolutely No Idea What To Do

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It may feel overwhelming, but it’s okay. Lots of students find themselves feeling stressed in the fall of final year, worried that graduation is soon approaching and they don’t yet have a plan.

There is time for you to work towards figuring out what you want to do when you graduate this spring.

Here are six steps you can take to move forward.

“Let go for a moment any concerns about being ‘realistic’ and just dream. Your dreams can give you great clues about what type of work might be appealing to you.”

1. Consider what you have considered

While you may feel like you have no idea what you want to do, you have probably considered a variety of options in the past. Reviewing these ideas can give you an idea of what sorts of roles you are attracted to (and not attracted to).

2. Dream a bit

If you could be doing anything, what would you really like to be doing? Don’t worry if you are not even sure if there really is a job like that, just spend some time thinking about how you’d be spending your time if you could be working at anything you wanted.

Let go for a moment any concerns about being “realistic” and just dream. Your dreams can give you great clues about what type of work might be appealing to you. With that knowledge you can start researching how you might make part, or all, of that dream a reality.

3. Assess your skills

Part of deciding what you would like to do is figuring out what you CAN do. How well do you know what your skills are?

Review what work (paid or unpaid) you have done in the past and identify what skills you used. As you start exploring jobs you might do, it will be really helpful to have a good sense of the skills you bring.

4. Create your criteria checklist

There is a huge wide world of job options out there. What are you looking for in a job? What type of environment? What location, salary, organizational culture?  Creating your own checklist of the criteria that makes a job appealing to you can help you evaluate options.

5. Explore what’s out there

Most people can only name a handful of different occupations. We all know about doctor, lawyer, teacher, etc. But in reality, there are thousands of different types of careers, and new ones being created all the time. There are surely options that you can get excited about.

To explore what these may be, try visiting your campus’ career services. They are likely to have books and/or weblinks about career options to get you started – far more efficient than just googling “career options.”

6. Speak with a career counsellor

Even a short conversation with a skilled counsellor can move you ahead by leaps and bounds. With thoughtful questions they can help you draw out your interests, identify things that might be getting in the way of making a decision, and discuss strategies for how to move forward.

Congratulations on making it to your final year. Best wishes as you explore your next steps!

Click here to check out more of Cathy’s answers to pressing career questions from students and grads just like you

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About the author

Cathy Keates is a career counsellor and trainer who has worked with university students and graduates for the past decade, helping them to strategically create careers they will love. She has worked as a career counsellor at Queen's University and was the associate director of the career centre at York University. Convinced that we can all create lives based on authenticity and integrity, she is the author of the new job search book Not for Sale! and shares her thoughts about finding work without losing yourself on her blog, Transform Your Job Search.