To find a career that best suits you is not an easy or a quick task. It can take you years or even a lifetime but it can also be born with you. It actually depends on the person. Some people know all their lives what they aspire to be. Others spend forever wandering and wondering what might be their dream job.
If it’s any consolation to you, don’t worry, you are not the only one feeling lost. It’s okay to have different aspirations and interests, especially when you haven’t had professional experience. The problem is when the time comes to make decisions. Sometimes your insecurities or your undecided personality might interfere with your decision-making process.
Therefore, there are some strategies you can follow that might help you getting to know yourself better.
- Balance your strengths with your interests
First of all consider your strengths, because they can define if you are capable of doing something or not.
Also, even if you are really interested in a subject but you have no skills at it, it will be hard to start a career in that field. For instance, if you love astronomy but you are very bad at math, probably it will be hard for you to achieve a career as a scientist or astronomer.
However, almost nothing is impossible. If you really love something but you think you are not so good at it, then you can always work hard to try to reach it somehow.
In sum, balance your strengths with your interests, evaluate what’s worth and what’s not.
We suggest that you write down all the strengths and interests you have and analyze which of both matches.
- Discover your type of vocational personality
You already know your strengths and interests. Now you should reflect on what kind of person you are and what kind of workplace environment you imagine yourself working in.
Do you consider yourself an introvert, interested in new ideas that usually makes decisions based on your emotions? Or on the other hand, are you an extrovert that pays a lot of attention to physical reality and likes to stick to the rules?
For that purpose there is a tool called Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It consists of a self-report questionnaire that assigns people into one of 16 personality types. If you want to know in detail what is it about and what jobs match each type of personality, then read this blog. You can also take the test for free here, you will be impressed with how accurately it describes you!
- Get rid of family, peers and social bias
Did you know that more than 50% of first year undergraduates are influenced by friends and family in their career decision making?
Most people go to the same university as their best friend or they study a specific field because their parents consider it’s the best for them.
Most of the times people forget who they avoid to think about their professional future. This can result in you regretting your path after years of investment in a university career.
Also, society itself pressures people to follow certain careers because they are more likely to achieve success and reach top management positions and salaries. But doing what society says can also end up leaving you feeling depressed. Of course if you are a web developer you will be more probable to find a job than an actor. But then again, if that’s not what you like, do you think you will feel fulfilled?
Our advice is for you to think about how your family, friends and society in general can be influencing your decisions.
This doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Rather, it means you should link what you want with what the others want for you.
- Gather information from people
Following the idea in the last topic, use your network to your favor. Are you thinking about working in healthcare industry, but you have no idea if you want to be a doctor, a physiotherapist or a veterinary? Ask your neighbor that has a daughter that works as a surgeon or the best friend of your uncle that works as a vet assistant. Be curious, investigative and spread the word. You will certainly find someone within your social connections that can tell you about their career and experience.
In short, it will be very useful for your decision-making to talk with an expert, in the field you are interested in, who can help you clarify your ideas.
Just don’t forget to write down all your questions and doubts and fears before!
- Have an Internship experience
But, even if you reach this stage and you have already found out which are your career aspirations, you will only be sure when you actually experience it in its context. Thus, start looking for internships. An internship usually lasts 6 months and you can be in touch with the job and see if it meets your expectations.
Don’t be afraid to fail or to find out it was not for you after all. If you don’t try you will never know!
- Seek help from a vocational counselor
If all the steps mentioned above fail to succeed and you are having trouble finding out what career best suits you, maybe you need some professional help. Probably in your school, university or neighborhood you can find cheaper, or even free, help from a vocational counselor that can guide you during the process.
Remember that career choices and doubts can happen during all your life span. Sometimes you need time to think about you, other times you just need a change. Accept crisis as part of human nature and try to deal with it the best way possible!
By: Joana Correia