Leaving education is a significant milestone for every adult. Until now, your life has been on a clear path, following a set trajectory and pursuing pre-defined goals. Preparing for what’s next and embracing the unknown is a stark contrast.
In effect, you’ve reached a crossroads. For the first time, you’re the master of your fate.
There’s associated excitement, pressure, and trepidation – as well as a good helping of fear about making the wrong choice for your future.
The reality is, there are very few ‘wrong’ choices. Many of us have multiple, ever-evolving visions of what we’d like our lives to be. They don’t always look like how we first imagined.
Many students feel trapped by their degree course title. Still, it doesn’t necessarily define the industry in which you end up. Take the Law student who realised they didn’t want to practise. Or the Mathematics graduate who went on to pursue their passion for customer service.
Then there are people like Steve Jobs. He didn’t graduate at all but co-founded Apple and later applied calligraphic design principles he learned at university to Apple tech.
So, Where to Begin?
As a student leaving education, everyone around you will have an opinion about what to do next – course professionals, careers advisors, parents, friends, and family. It’s a long list.
Working it out for yourself is often a lot more tricky. A great place to begin in your thinking is to start with what you know.
What are your interests and passions?
People liken loving your work to not working a day in your life. Whether or not that’s true is another story, but working in a field in which you’re already naturally interested is a great place to begin your working days.
Consider your hobbies, interests, and causes you care about. What do you love doing? Could you turn a pre-existing passion into a career?
What are you good at?
Chances are you’ll already have an idea of what your strengths are and what you’re not so good at. Ask your family, friends, lecturers, and mentors for additional insights.
Weigh your skills and strengths, and consider ways to apply them in the working world.
Does this information ignite any ideas about potential roles you could explore?
Are there areas where your interests and strengths combine?
Look for patterns and areas of overlap between your passions and skills. The perfect place for career fulfilment and success is finding somewhere where they intersect.
Don’t be put off if the pieces don’t naturally fall together. It doesn’t happen for many of us.
For most people, finding a career we want and love is a combination of exploring new opportunities and embracing the unknown.
Where Will I End Up?
Your career will span most of your adult life, so it’s completely understandable to want to make the right choice about what you want from a career.
However, a job for life is no longer the norm. Careers today are less like ladders to climb than squiggles to navigate.
Nowadays success is defined by different metrics than money, influence, and power. Students entering the workforce and the Gen-Zs that have already arrived use their values as a career compass. They actively pursue increased diversity, inclusion, and equity in the working world, embracing making the world a better place as a critical metric of success.
A Squiggly Career Trajectory
Considering a squiggly career trajectory means embracing the idea that your career need not be a predetermined, linear path.
It’s about giving yourself the space to try new things and explore different professional working relationships. Allow yourself to try volunteering, internships, freelancing, short term employment, as well as the corporate career ladder model before making any long term commitments.
A squiggly career pattern is about defining learning and development opportunities as possibilities as well as plans.
Not making a decision straight out of university can sometimes be the best decision you make.
Think Possibilities As Well As Plans
Visualisation is a powerful tool to envisage your future career direction. But don’t limit your potential by having only one possible future set in stone.
Consider the ‘Obvious Choice’
What would be your logical career choice based on your experience, studies, and others’ expectations? It could be the right thing to do if financial security has come out top in assessing your priorities.
For an Engineering student, it might be becoming a mechanical engineer. For an Art student, a role in graphic design. Perhaps it’s none of the above, and you intend to take over the family business.
The more you think about it, does it seem the obvious choice for you, providing financial security and a sense of happiness and fulfilment in your work? Or is it something that others have chosen for you and you’re pursuing on autopilot?
Contemplate the ‘Ambitious Choice’
Where do you see your most successful self? Is it heading up a company, running an agency, becoming a successful architect? What challenges stand in your way?
Can you, and do you want to, overcome them?
What’s the ‘Dream’?
If you could be anything in the world, what would it be? If you could pivot your life in a completely different direction, what would it look like?
Assess Each In Turn
Are there similarities? Are they realistic based on what you know of yourself? What defines each choice?
Are there steps you can take to move the needle closer to becoming the obvious choice?
Life is a Journey, Not a Destination
When it comes to making life decisions and considering your future, it’s logical to want to get things right. But no one has everything figured out.
Take things a step at a time, and don’t put yourself under too much pressure, always remember ‘there are no wrong decisions, only different ones.’
For support to figure out what happens next and advice about realising your goals for your brightest future, get in touch.