I was constantly asked this question by my parents, teachers, distant relatives, and people I barely knew. When I told them that I was off to university to read Geography, I always got “that look”. The look where they thought I was a little bonkers and asked if I was going to be a weather woman when I grew up! Oh, if only I had a pound for every time someone said this to me. I am pretty sure that I would be a millionaire on a beach somewhere sipping cocktails.
I picked university because I wanted to immerse myself in a subject which I enjoyed and did well in. I wasn’t entirely sure where it would take me in terms of my career, but I knew that the experiences of being a student would be valuable, whatever I went on to do.
Many of you will be finishing sixth form, graduating from university or you might be at an important junction in your life where you will be asking yourself this very question: what am I going to do with my life? We can’t all be entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg; the journey for us to find our calling can be long, winding and full of surprises. To help you navigate your way through the process, here are some things to consider…
Your career is fluid. Gone are the days where you join a firm as a graduate or school leaver and you work up the ranks and retire with the same firm aged of 65. This is what my grandparents did, and there is nothing wrong with this approach, but it’s far more common for people to move around nowadays, to try new things and explore their options. Experiencing different jobs and industries can help to you to work out what type of work you really want to do it. I like to think of this process as taking small steps up a ladder where each step gives you greater insight into what you really want to do (and help you to work out exactly what you don’t want to do too). This insight is valuable and will allow you to do something you love for a company you want to work for.
Skills, skills and more skills. Employers want people who are flexible and can apply what they have learnt to their business. Whether you’re studying geography, history or marketing, or you’ve spent your summer travelling, volunteering, interning or working, employers are looking for those essential skills you have developed along the way. Get involved in as many things as you possibly can and keep logs of what you get up, what you have learnt and important contacts you have made.
Personal fulfilment. You’d be surprised how many people hate their jobs, they hate the company they work for and dislike the people they work with. Personal job satisfaction is incredibly important and researching the company, their values and overall ethos is crucial. Having a sense of personal fulfilment is vital to having a healthy working life. I don’t mean that you need to spring out of bed every morning, desperate to get back to your desk, and sing good morning to your boss, but I do mean that when you are asked if you enjoy your job, you can confidently reply “YES”!
Take my job here at Pure Potential, there are a few cold, winter days where I don’t want to get out of my warm bed, but I have plenty of days where I meet hundreds of students at our events, share advice and help students to fulfil their ambitions. This feeling of achievement doesn’t have to be charitable either; you could get a real buzz from hitting targets, solving problems, creating amazing campaigns, getting justice for your clients or contributing to the advancement of science. Only you know that is most important to you, so have a think about these values and try and find a job and firm that match these.
There is a job out there for everyone. You’d be surprised how many students say that there just isn’t a job out there that’s right for them. Wrong! As your life twists and turns through various stages, keep your eyes open for careers that might suit you. Do some research, speak to people and learn as much as you possibly can about that particular job, career or industry. Everything in life, from taking public transport, to the food you eat, to the magazines and books you read to the television shows you enjoy to the money you spend, have hundreds, no thousands of jobs supporting them; one of which will be perfect for you.
I don’t expect that after reading this post you will now have a clear-cut idea of what you want to do next, but I do hope that you will start to have a sense of the things you should be thinking about when you decide. Work hard, even if you’re not sure of what you want to do, and keep your options open. We run a number of free events and opportunities in partnership with leading employers so you can explore your future pathways. Register with our website so we can send you details of our future opportunities.