“I Don’t Have Time To Think About My Career!”

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I speak with a lot of students who are worried about their future career paths, but feel so overwhelmed with what is already on their plates – school, work, extra-curriculars, volunteering, and a little time left over for just hanging out – that they feel like they have no time to think about, let alone do something about, their careers.

While it can be tempting to keep postponing career-related activities, the thing about creating your career is that when you do start working on it, it won’t happen overnight.

Instead of feeling like you have to dive right in to planning out your whole career, what about just doing a couple small tasks each week or month?

Thinking about your interests, exploring your options, building your network – all these things take time.

Even simply investing a little time while you are busy can generate huge rewards later.

If you are about to graduate and need to find some answers soon, you may need to invest some significant effort now.

But if you still have some time before you need to make a decision or find a job and want to try some ways of squeezing in a little career-work into your busy schedule, here are some possibilities:

A little = a lot

Sometimes it is hard to get started because you feel like you have to take on the whole project all at once. Instead of feeling like you have to dive right in to planning out your whole career, what about just doing a couple small tasks each week or month? Even accomplishing just one thing each month will start to add up over time.

A few things to try:

Use your holiday breaks

Your December holiday break and your Reading Week (if your school has one) can be excellent times to squeeze in a little career-work. For example, what about scheduling a few informational interviews with family friends when you are home over the holidays?

Keep a journal

While regular journaling is not for everyone, some people really enjoy sitting down and doing some reflection through writing. Especially if you are not yet sure what career(s) you are most interested in, journaling can be a good way for you to get to know yourself better and get more clear on your work-related interests and skills.

To keep a career journal, sit down once a week and think about things like:

  • What have my favourite classes and projects been?
  • What types of activities do I see myself doing when I think about myself in the future?
  • If I could wave a magic wand and be anything, what might that be?
  • What happened this last week that I really enjoyed?

Passive progress

There are even ways to invest in your career that are pretty passive and don’t require a lot of energy from you. If you have some careers that you would like to know more about, look for ways to easily learn about them over time.

Take a look for a professional association in your field that has a newsletter you can subscribe to, try to find blogs written about your career or written by people in your career, and see if there are people in your career field you who you can follow on Twitter. After subscribing, there is little effort on your part – and over time if you continue reading you can learn a lot.

The life of a student is busy. But, if you want to, these are just a few many ways you might fit in some time to research and network towards your future career.

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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.