Very few people are born knowing how to choose a career. We spend most of our childhood daydreaming about many possible professions and what it would be like to be part of them. Then, quite suddenly, high school is over and we are faced with the choice of which university to attend. As most of you are already aware, this choice is heavily connected with choosing one’s career.
Society expects young people to just intuitively realize what they want to be when they grow up. However, this had led to many being unsatisfied with their choices. Young adults need a more systematic, rational way of thinking about their future careers. Of course, this also needs to be balanced with a healthy level of emotional intelligence and staying true to our personal desires and talents.
To help you achieve this balance, we have decided to give you some advice on how to choose a career as a young adult. It can help both those who have already started university as well as those still contemplating which one to enrol. Suffice it to say, knowing which direction you want to take your career can also be a great help when deciding when and where you would like to go study abroad.
Let us get started.
Before we start thinking of practical matters, it helps to just consider the things you are passionate about. What makes you happy to get up in the morning? What could you spend hours doing without growing too bored of it?
There is that famous question: what would you do in life if money were no object? Although this type of thinking is impractical unless you were born into generational wealth, it does steer us in the direction of thinking about what we would truly want to do versus what we need to do.
Each of us has a specific set of skills. Some of these skills we are more naturally talented at and some we have learned through painstaking effort. Regardless, think about how these skills and talents relate to potential careers.
A big part of how to choose a career is being honest with yourself. For example, you maybe want to become a pro basketball player that everyone cheers for, but you were simply not born tall enough and lack the necessary dexterity. That is okay, though, because in such cases there are always alternatives that the person might also like!
One of the most important considerations regarding your future career is whether or not it alligns with your deepest values. To know this, of course, you must know what your deepest values are.
Although life might force us in certain directions, pursuing a career that does not align with your core values will in most cases become a serious source of friction. Instead of being forced to change professions somewhere down the line, when it is more difficult, try and make the right decision now.
Contrary to a lot of contemporary discourse, your career is not necessarily your ultimate goal in life. For example, you might really like the lifestyle of a rockstar but ultimately want to start a family and settle down somewhere nice and quiet. In this case, the rockstar career would be incompatible with your ultimate life goal.
As we will discuss later, this can also be related to your financial goals. This is an important balancing point when it comes to how to choose a career, and those who are most fortunate can find a profession which corresponds to what they most want to do in life, although in many cases it requires some level of compromise.
This piece of advice relates to both your education so far as well as future considerations. If, for example, you went to a medical high school then you might consider a career in medicine (if it aligns with your goals and values). Conversely, if you want to become a doctor but have no prior education, you might proactively choose to attend a prestigious medical university.
Education and career are deeply intertwined. They can both limit and enable each other. Try to work with your current education as best as you can and recognize important opportunities you have when it comes to choosing your future. Ask yourself where and what you would like to study and how that fits into your career choice.
Love it or hate it, money makes the modern world go around. One of the most important aspects of a career you will have to consider is the salary it provides. Does earning more money supersede the importance of a healthier work-life balance for you? Would you rather do something you are deeply passionate about for a relatively low salary?
These are often the paths people have to choose when deliberating about how to choose a career and they are not always simple. It is easy to tell someone to just follow their heart but for some people, this might mean going against the grain of their natural inclinations so they could earn more money, especially if they derive a large part of their happiness from material possessions, nice homes, or supporting a large family.
Unfortunately, not all of us are born with equal opportunities. Despite what the world tells us, there are some very real roadblocks many young people face when it comes to achieving their dream careers, both in terms of geography and resources (mostly in terms of finances for education and professional development or travel). The former issue can be resolved to an extent by studying abroad, but it is not always easy.
The good news is that there still exist many opportunities for everyone. Almost all people can find some kind of niche where they enjoy themselves and support their communities while earning a decent amount of money.
If your school had not already had you take a career aptitude test, they can be one of the best ways to figure out how to choose a career. They can evaluate a lot of the things we have mentioned above, including values, skills, and goals, and provide you with a handy guideline as to what you might want to do for a job.
The important thing with these tests is not to take them as the end all be all. They can often be flawed and they nearly never give the full picture. However, using them as a bit of help while understanding their limitations can be invaluable.
Experience is the best teacher. For this reason, it can be incredibly useful if you are able to explore some careers in a hands-on manner.
This does not have to be you literally working the position. It can also involve you visiting workplaces or talking to people who have worked in certain industries. Many employers are also open to answering direct questions you might have regarding jobs.
Finally, one of the best pieces of advice we can give you on choosing a career as a young adult is to try to find a job that fits you as much as possible. Sometimes, you will not be able to find that perfect fit, of course, but the goal is to achieve something good enough while taking into account any practical limitations you might have.
Knowing which career to choose can drastically control the course of our lives. It can help us know in which direction we want to take our education as well as social relationships. However, even with all of the advice we have given above, it can still be a challenging decision to make.
One thing to realize is that you do not have to settle on a single career for your entire life. People change and their careers do as well. The most important thing is to remain true to yourself at whatever point in life you are.
If you need some additional help starting out when it comes to choosing a career and, by extension, university, then get in touch with us at Allen Global for career counselling. It can be of great help and save you many headaches down the line.
Otherwise, consider reading some of our other informative content about studying abroad.
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