HOW TO DECIDE WHAT PROFESSION TO PURSUE THROUGH A SERIES OF STEPS
Most of us do not explore career options seriously when growing up. We may have dreamt of being astronauts or dolphin trainers, rockstars or actors. Perhaps our parents told us they wanted us to be doctors and engineers and we simply agreed with them. But there then comes a point in our life where we have to pause and really think- what do I want to be?
For many, this is a confusing time. There is an abundance of career options out there and some may be better than the others. It may become difficult to make a choice. So you wonder, how can I choose the right one for me?
This seems tough because your whole life could be determined by the decision you make now. At the core of it, making your career choice involves a series of decisions. Once you make these decisions and choices, you can find the perfect career for you.
1. Take a career assessment test
Career tests can be especially useful if you have no idea what career you should choose. With a career test, you can figure out what professions or fields best suit your personality type, aptitudes, skills, etc. While you are under no compulsion to choose a career that the test suggests, it does give you an idea of where to begin the search for your perfect career. Several self-assessments tests are available, and you can also choose to take guidance from a career counsellor.
2. List down what you love doing
Ask yourself what you love and where your interest lies. Maybe you enjoy music or literature or chemistry. Perhaps maths interests you more than any other subject. List down all of these so you know where to start your search. Find out what jobs are available in these fields and do some research on them.
3. List down jobs that interest you
Within each field there are several jobs, some that might interest you more than others. Maybe you are interested in the field of music. You may be more interested in the job of a sound engineer than of a singer or an instrumentalist. You may enjoy practicing medicine rather than going into research area. Make a list of such potential jobs.
4. Shortlist your career options
From the several lists of careers that you have- the ones recommended by the career test, the jobs that involve doing something you love and jobs that interest you the most- choose the ones that you can picture yourself doing, or that you think will suit you best. After this, you can move on to the next stage of choosing your career.
5. Do your research
Find out more about these careers that you find yourself drawn to. You can find an abundance of information online. Looks at the job descriptions, the necessary skills and qualifications, academic experience, estimated salary, job potential, etc.
6. Speak to people in the profession
The best information you can find will be from those people already working in the field that you are interested in. These individuals can give you insight that is not available online or anywhere else- they can tell you of their experience in that job, their struggles, the problems they had to overcome and so on. This information can give you a realistic picture of what this career truly involves.
7. List your priorities
Now that you have a list of jobs that you are interested in and know about, figure out what your priorities are. Do you want a job that ensures a steady income? Do you want a job that lets you travel around? Or one that has great potential for growth? Using the information you have gathered so far, check if your career choices match with these priorities, and further shorten your list.
8. List down your skills and experience
Check if the skills and academic experience that you already have matches the requirements for these careers. If their requirements do not match with your skills, either remove them from the list, or if possible, develop the skills and get the experience that they demand. You could do so by attending online lectures and earning certificates. There is plenty of learning material available online that can help you develop your skills.
9. Intern in that field
At this point, you are probably sure about your interest in one field more than the others, but you may still be uncertain about it. The best way to get a taste of the career you wish to pursue is to get first-hand experience. Find internships or part time jobs in those fields. You may not only get a better idea of what the job involves, but can also can make connections in your desired field and also gather some relevant experience.
10. Make a plan of action
At this point, you have hopefully chosen a career that you think best suits you. Speak to people who are in the field and understand how they got into this job, and how they are thriving in it. Following their footsteps may ensure your own success in that field. Plan out your way to this job with what to study, what skills to gain, what experiences to gather, where to apply, etc. Learn from their mistakes and pave your path with their lessons.
At the end of this decision making process, you will find the job that is right for you. Sometimes, though, either we change, or the career we pursue isn’t how we expected to be. Sometimes, we find ourselves unsatisfied with the career choice that we made.
So remember from the start that the career choice you make right now does not have to be the one you work in for all your life. You can always switch jobs later on.
Do not put yourself under too much pressure in finding the perfect job for you- as long as you work hard and enjoy the work you do, other things will work out too.