People always ask about a school child’s career direction very early in life. ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ This is a question most of us are asked when we are young. Basically, the question is about aspirations and purpose, and may even relate to potential seen in a child.
Not all of us have inborn talents. However, a desire to know something and to practice can turn it into a talent. Most musicians were not born musicians, right? They practice, they love music and in the end music becomes their talent and their career.
What you like doing, and what you are talented in, are really important when you are choosing your career. If you happen to do something and people like what you did, then perhaps you could take it further. Who knows maybe it could lead to your future career? You will also get more professional satisfaction if you do what you like doing.
Your Career Direction Journey
Finding out what you want to do is determined by the person you are and how you see the future. Your career journey begins when you identify that future. Seeing it will help you use your talents, education and friends to work towards it. Also, remember that a career direction journey doesn’t end when you get a job. Even when you are working you will experience change, reinvention, development and growth…
Plus, the future is unknowable. And change is inevitable.
From Storyteller to Storydoer
This is the career story of my friend. He graduated from college with a law degree. However, he told me that it had never been easy studying as law was never his choice. At different time he had wanted to be a cameraman, a restaurant manager and a sales assistant.
He went on to lose a few jobs, because he was ill-suited to the roles. You know why, right? He wasn’t interested in law. Did he end up in law for the right reasons? No way.
Then his career direction changed; he became flexible and open-minded. From that point on, he was a storydoer. He tells the story about how his career development changed and he is now a cameraman. Understanding who he was, what he could do, what his strengths were and what he was talented at changed his life. He was no longer living someone else’s story.
He told me that setting out with a clear purpose, or making shifts in your career direction, will help you write a chapter of your life. Invest in your self-awareness and seek feedback from people.
The following might help you work out your own career direction and become a storydoer, like my friend.
Explore yourself and your talent
The best career choice is always to get into the field that you thrive in and can use your talents. To understand your talents, ask yourself: who am I? What do I do for pleasure? How and where will I get a job?
i. Who are you?
What are your preferences and abilities? What are you good at and what do you like? Answering these questions will establish what you can do and how you can be happy doing it.
ii. What do you do?
What do you do in your spare time? Think about the things you can’t wait to do when you are free.
iii. Use career tests
If you really have no idea about a career, try an online test. These give you some advice and information on career choices that suit you. Your responses will point to a number of options for career directions you can take.
iv. Think further
Think further about other career options that may not be so obvious. Make sure you are interested in them and can get qualifications in them. If you already have the qualifications then that is great.
v. Pull it together
Think through all your ideas. Choose one or two that match your interests and talents. If you have more than one career direction, don’t worry. Some might suit you later in life because you can opt to change. Try and make a deep and thoughtful decision that you wouldn’t change at all right now.
vi. Participate in job fairs
Job fairs can set you in the right career direction. Make sure you look up the companies online before you go. Check what they do, how they do it and what they might want you to do. This will give you an inner feel of what to expect if you work there. If it will suit your career path, follow it.
Other ways to help your career direction
There are many other things you can do to develop a career. You can take up volunteering or work part-time in an industry to give you a feel for it. Volunteer in something where you can use your interests. You should get a sense of how that career choice will pan out and whether it suits the person you are. If you work part-time or volunteer you will gain real life experience, even if you are still in high school.
After all we are never really too young or old too answer the question: ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’