You may or may not already have an idea of what your preferred career would be.
You will be – if you have not been already – faced with the question, “Where do I go from here?”
For many, this moment when you choose which path to take can be life-changing.
While advice from others is valuable, so is independent reflection.
Here are five main questions I’ve found helpful in focusing my career options.
1. Why do you want to be in a given profession?
I’ve been asked this question more times than I can remember by admissions committees, interviewers, family and relatives.
Friends of mine have even asked themselves this question when their journeys became so stressful that they began to doubt themselves and wonder if they’ve made the right choices.
The answer to this question is the key to keeping yourself motivated. Remember what attracted you to a certain career in the first place, what you value most, what your skills are, what your most pressing needs are, what your chosen career can give you that others cannot and what type of lifestyle you hope to have.
2. Does your occupation of choice correspond with who you are?
If you are a shy person, you probably don’t want a career in the spotlight. A teacher once told me she would have loved to become a physician if the sight of blood didn’t make her queasy. She opted to teach biology instead, and she was great at it.
Your skills are also part of who you are. If you are lacking the skills required to do the job well, ask yourself if you can develop and improve those skills to meet the necessary standards.
3. Do you really know what your profession of interest is all about?
Television shows are entertaining, but they often set unrealistic expectations about certain professions. Rather than blindly pursuing a career and living with the consequences thereafter, start doing research. Browse the Internet and read informative books.
Editor’s note: Check out TalentEgg’s Career Guides for more information about careers in more than a dozen industries, spanning hundreds of different jobs.
I find that talking with people in the industry is one of the best sources of information. The privacy allows for open and honest dialogue, and more complete answers to your inquiries.
If you don’t know anyone in the field, try asking your school’s career centre for assistance. They will likely have connections to alumni who would be happy to talk with you.
Shadowing, interning, and volunteering are other fantastic ways of discovering the type of work that does – or does not – interest you.
4. What are you willing to do to get there?
You will be investing many years of your life and tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to achieve your goals. Are you willing to commit to making those sacrifices? It might involve leaving your family, friends, and home town for education or work abroad. It might involve sleep deprivation and above-average levels of stress.
Depending on the occupation and how long you plan to stay in that profession, you will have to make different sacrifices. You have to decide whether or not what you will be getting is worth what you are giving up.
5. Do you have the resources to finance your choice?
I usually like to book an appointment with a bank when their website information is too vague or not applicable to my situation. Make sure you come prepared with specific questions to get the most out of these appointments and to avoid wasting their time and yours.
One particularly useful source for information on financial aid can be scholarship websites. Once you sign up you can use the search engine to locate scholarships, bursaries, and other awards that match your profile.
Working for a few years to increase your savings is another option if time is on your side. This job may or may not be something you enjoy, but remind yourself that what you have is a long-term goal, and this is only a temporary stop on your way to the finish line.
There are plenty more questions you can ask yourself. It will take time before you come to a final decision and determine what your next steps should be to reach your target.
Your answers to these questions may change as you gain experience and circumstances change, and that’s okay. I’m not the exact same person I was when I was five years old, and neither are you. Change is part of life. Just be certain that you are making an informed choice.
Which questions have you asked yourself before heading in the direction of your career?
Photo credit: Ethan Lofton