You must’ve heard – “Pick a career you love, and you’ll never feel like working. Pick a career others chose for you, and work will look like a prison to you.” It is a cliché, but it is true, almost. (Yes, I invented the second half of the statement.)
Now, I’ll ask a few questions –
- Do your parents love their job?
- Did they choose their own career, or was it chosen for them?
- Do your family members and relatives force you to take up Engineering/Medical?
Most of the answers would be – ‘No. Chosen for them. Yes.” While the scenario has changed a lot, there are still countless students who don’t have the courage to fight all odds and choose their careers themselves.
However, this article isn’t for them; I’ll address this audience in some other article. This article is for students who can take action and are asking themselves, ‘Which career is best for me?’ or ‘Which career should I choose’.
Self-Discovery (What Career Should I Choose)
Let’s get personal, yeah? Before you go on asking ‘what career should I choose’, you must discover yourself. No, I’m not talking about you going on a random solo Manali trip with a bunch of strangers. However, that would be very cool!
But I’m talking about discovering your interests, skills, and talents. Before we move forward, I have a question for you. To help you understand your interests and skills. After all, how can you find the perfect career if you don’t know what makes you tick?
Exercise 1: Interests & Skills
Take a pen and paper. Make two columns. In the first column, write down all the things you love doing in your free time. It could be anything: writing, playing games, shooting videos, etc. In the second column, write if you are naturally good at it, have upskilled overtime, or would like to upskill.
You don’t have to write anything academic at all. Writing, media, and games can be careers too. Run wild; everything counts.
Exercise 2: Strengths & Weaknesses
Turn the page to create two columns again. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. It can be anything from leadership quality to being an introvert or from being a team player to insert any weakness here.
Now, don’t refrain from your weaknesses. The idea is to identify them now so that you can work on them later. Remember, I’m not asking you to show these pages to anyone. It’ll be with you only, so don’t shy away.
Exercise 3: Explore Values
Now, everyone wants to make money. But not everyone has money as a top priority. Now, turn the page again and question yourself – What really matters to you in life?
Is it making a positive impact on the environment, helping others, making a lot of money, or something else entirely? These are your values, and they play a big role in your career choices.
Exercise 4: List of Careers
This is the last, I promise. Turn around the page again and write a list of careers that you’d want to pursue. The list can be as little as five or as long as fifty. Prepare the list irrespective of the three exercises above.
Meaning you may not have any interest or skill in engineering yet. But if you view it as a good career option and would want to try it out, write it down.
When you perform these four exercises, you’ll end up with a list of career options that are aligned with your interests, skills, values, and talents. This won’t take more than 30 minutes. Now, if you can spare 30 minutes more, try to cut down the list to not more than 10-12 career options.
Psst… Chances are – this list may not have the career option that others want you to pursue. This is the whole point: to analyze and decide a career that you want!
Explore Options (Which Career is Best for Me)
There is a multi-verse of career options to choose from. But we just cut down to one universe. A universe that only hosts the career options best for you. Now, it’s your job to travel all the planets, continents, and countries (career options from your list)
Wait, you can’t have all the careers. You have to choose one, but how? It’s a 3-step process – Research. Talk. Practice. I’ll explain, come along:
Research (like a pro)
Pick a career from the list, and start researching about it. Pick up your laptop/smartphone and open three tabs – Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter (X). Type in the career option you want to research. Read every article, post, or tweet you come across.
Learn the job description, required skills, earning potential, and reviews. Learn about the views of people who have been in this career for a while. Analyze their experience, growth, etc. The idea is to know everything about that career, A-to-Z, and craft a mind map of how this career will look on you!
You’ll cut down on many options at this step. If you like an option so far, move to the next step –
Talk to People
Now, you might not get all the insights of a career based on the information online. To get the insider info, start talking to people who are inside. Do this:
If you’re interested in a content writing career, go to LinkedIn or Twitter and search the term ‘content writer’. Go to the ‘People’ section, and you’ll have a list of people who are working as content writers. Send them a connection request, drop a DM, and get all of your questions answered.
Note: You might not get a response from everyone. Try to start the message with personalization or a compliment.
You may lose a few options here, too. These exercises are like knockout sessions. Now, you are left with a few careers you are interested in and confident in, most likely. The last step:
Volunteer & Intern
Considering you are still in school or college, you have time. So use this time in actually practicing a career you may be doing for the rest of your life (or the coming decade at least). Reading or talking about a career can be very different from actually doing it.
Volunteering or interning in a field you’re interested in can be a real eye-opener. Who knows, you might find your dream career. Plus, it looks awesome on your resume!
These exercises didn’t help? Then, try talking to a career counselor.
Future-Proof Careers (Which Career is Best for the Future)
Now, you may or may not have decided the ideal career for yourself. If you have, try to rethink it, keeping the future aspects in mind. Because AI is here, and no matter how hard you try, some career options are going to vanish. AI is going to eat a bunch of jobs, and it is inevitable.
However, it is also going to create a bunch of new jobs, for example – Prompt Engineering. If you’re looking for future-proof careers, then you should consider fields like data science, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, healthcare, creator economy, and renewable energy.
These industries (and many more) are poised for significant growth in the coming years and will create numerous employment opportunities. Keep an eye on the latest trends and developments in your field of interest to stay ahead of the curve.
The key idea is to identify and discard the options that are going to vanish in the coming years.
Why is it Important to Choose Your Own Career? (Case-studies)
Storytime! I’ll tell you a story of Sushrut (that’s me!).
2015: I was in high school, and my teacher asked me – “Do you want to continue with Mathematics, Biology, or Commerce?” I had no answer. I went home and asked my father, and he said, “Mathematics.”
2017: I passed out from school, and now I had to pick a career and apply for graduation. Again, I was clueless. I didn’t know what to do. Engineering? Heck! I knew nothing apart from engineering. I asked my father again – “I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to study anymore. Maybe I’ll do wedding photography like my cousin.”
“No! Do engineering with Computer Science. Become a software engineer and get a job.”
2021: I graduated and got placed in an MNC as a software developer.
My career would’ve been set if I continued down that lane. But here I am, writing this article, working as a freelancer, community manager, and agency owner (miles away from software engineering)
Now, I regret not using my brain earlier. If only I’d figured out my wants earlier, I’d have been miles ahead in my career.
If you don’t want to spend years and lakhs of rupees in regret, it is high time you start thinking about the career you want to have. But is it that important? Yes, it is. But not to that level where you spend your teenage years fretting over a career. No, I figured it out late, but I’m doing super good.
You can afford to get late. It’s always better than not getting there ever.
Wrapping It Up
So far, you’ve been on this self-discovery journey, explored career options, and even peeked into the future. What’s next? It’s time to pick your path. Let’s reiterate, shall we?
- Recall Your Insights: Remember those exercises you did earlier to discover your interests, skills, values, and talents.
- Dig Deeper: Learn more about the careers that truly pique your interest, including job opportunities, potential pay, and required education or training.
- Connect with Professionals: Talk to people in your chosen field, ask questions, seek advice, and get a feel for the job.
- Gain Experience: If possible, try internships or volunteer work in your chosen career to see if it’s the right fit.
- Set Goals: Think about your short and long-term goals. What do you want to achieve in 5, 10, or 20 years?
- Take Action: Enroll in college, pursue vocational training, or apply for internships to move toward your dream career.
- Stay Flexible: Oh, I forgot about it. Choosing a career path doesn’t mean you have to stick with it forever. Remember, your interests may evolve. Be open to new possibilities.
I, on behalf of the FuelEd team, wish a very good luck to you. Stay FuelEd.