Deciding what career you are aiming for and taking steps to make it happen isn’t always easy.
By picking up this book, you’ve made one of the most important decisions in your career. You’ve demonstrated you want to learn as much as you can about the career possibilities open to you. You’re not going to let others decide for you; you’re going to do the research, speak to the right people and make your own decisions.
Investigating industries, identifying roles that interest you, and getting realistic about your skills are all important aspects of the career planning process. This book peels back the corporate branding of key graduate employers to give you a window into their working life and what they offer. But don’t let this scare you; you’re still allowed to make mistakes! Switching jobs is always possible and career changes are common.
Beginning professional life is one of life’s most significant events, and career planning should be a fun and exciting process. To get started on your career journey, consider the following steps:
When making decisions about your future, having a good idea about the type of job and career that will best suit your strengths and interests is important.
To help work this out, answer these questions:
Now think about the skills and strengths you have gained from your course, part-time or vacation work, volunteering, travel, sport, and other community and family activities, and make a list. The items that regularly appear – the ones you are good at and enjoy using – are likely to be your key skills.
Your personality will influence your career choice and job satisfaction. If you are naturally confident, you may prefer a job that offers lots of contact with others. If you are more reserved, an environment that focuses on information and tasks might suit you better.
After identifying your strengths and interests, the next step is working out where you can put them to work. You might like to research:
For each option you’re considering, think about how it meets the criteria you identified in step one and then identify any conflicts. If you need more training or experience, now is the time to focus on finding opportunities to fill in the gaps.
Discuss your ideas with people who can be objective and supportive, including family and friends, staff at your university careers centre, lecturers in your area of study, employers at career fairs and recent graduates working in your industries of interest.
Image source: Aurora Project
Now it is time to link the employer options you uncovered with what fits you best. Be prepared to compromise.
For example, you may have two or three roles or industries that really interest you, but one might involve relocating to a new city or state, which you don’t want to do. If one of your immediate goals is to pay off your student debts, your decision might be based on which job offers a better salary. Or you may have your eyes set on a role that offers management responsibility quickly, but find that your actual work experience isn’t up to the appropriate level yet.
We live in a rapidly changing world. You should expect to change careers several times in your working life – jobs and areas that don’t even exist now could easily offer opportunities in the future. Steps you take now to develop skills and manage your career will help open new doors in the future.
Create an action plan for your job search with clear timelines. This plan should include:
You can build a base of work-related experience and develop your skills and knowledge in a number of ways. For example, through:
Work-related experience allows you to demonstrate you have the skills required to transition into a professional role. It also provides you with concrete examples of where you have applied your skills, which can help throughout the job application process.