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Step from classroom to career – with these 5 tips

14 May 2019

Nearing the end of high school? Then you’ve probably been asked this question a hundred times: What are you going to do from here?

With little exposure to the world of work, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the countless career choices. That’s why we’re sharing 5 tips to help you take the next steps in your career journey.

  1. Start with the big questions

Making decisions about your career can feel less intimidating when you approach it methodically.

Instead of drowning in the vast sea of career options, start by asking yourself some fundamental questions. Like what your values and interests are, as well as what your ideal life looks like.

Zoom out. Step back. And ask:

  • What am I passionate about?
    Is it the environment, animals, the arts – or something else?
  • How do I enjoy spending my free time?
    You may love reading, playing an instrument or gardening.
  • What are the ‘non-negotiables’ for my work life?
    This could be working in an outdoor environment instead of an office. Or a job with flexible hours.

By starting with these broad questions, you can begin to explore the career possibilities that align with your values and priorities. From here, you can zoom in and compare the day-to-day reality of different jobs.

  1. Identify your strengths

Artistic and empathetic – or assertive and enthusiastic? A charismatic presenter… or a mathematical maestro?

We all have our own strengths in and outside the classroom. But often, it’s easier to identify other people’s strong points than our own.

To help uncover your special skills, ask your teachers, parents or friends what they think you’re good at. You might be surprised.

Once you’ve identified your star qualities, you can start researching careers that will let your attributes flourish.

  1. Consider all your possibilities

Now that you’re clearer on your values and strengths, it’s time to marry them with possible careers – and consider all the wonderful outcomes that could arise.

At this stage, it’s essential that you stay open to all possibilities, rather than focusing on mere probabilities. The latter will result in thinking that could limit your potential.

By keeping all options on the table, you may find a promising pathway that you would never have considered.

For example, you might value making a difference in children’s lives. When paired with your traits of kindness and curiosity, teaching or child psychology could be worth investigating. However, it’s important to also explore lesser-known paths – such as social work or museum education.

This is where a seasoned career counsellor can help. With their insight, you’ll discover a world of unfamiliar yet exciting options.

Attending career fairs can also broaden your idea of what’s out there. With National Careers Week starting on Monday 13 May, there’s already a wide range of webinars for you to enjoy.

  1. Set specific goals

Setting and achieving goals, no matter how big or small they may be, will give you a greater sense of accomplishment as you travel along your career journey.

However, to ensure your goals are practical, they should be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time bound

This means detailing the specific action steps to achieve your goals – and by when.

For example, your SMART goal might be to talk to three teachers by the end of the semester to learn more about biology, geography and PE careers.

  1. Remain flexible

Did you know that in today’s rapidly-changing workforce, people are likely to change employment 17 times across 5 different careers (source: The Foundation for Young Australians 2016)?

That’s why you need to be adaptable. This means working toward your goals, while also recognising that unexpected events can occur. Things might not turn out how you envisioned. Or perhaps you may alter the path you originally planned for.

In these unanticipated moments, remember that a change in plans doesn’t always mean a change in your higher level goals. Your hard work doesn’t have to be forgotten. Instead, it might be about finding a different way to reach your original vision.

Staying positive in the face of uncertainty will help you overcome such obstacles. We call this mentality ‘positive uncertainty’. And it’s the key to being a successful decision maker.

Need support in your career journey? Our qualified career psychologists are here to help. Call us on 1300 995 636 today.