3 Steps To Charting Your Career Path After Graduation.
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
One of the biggest myths surrounding careers is that by the time you graduate and you’re in your 20s, you should just “know” what you want to do with the rest of your life. This myth is so pervasive that it can be an incredibly isolating experience to feel like you don’t know what direction to take your career in after graduation. It might appear that everyone else around you knows what they want to do, but the truth is that most people are just going with the flow, or are being pushed by external forces such as family, professors, or what they think will make the most money.
If you’re unsure about how to chart your path after graduation, here are 3 simple steps based on the advice of career coach Lauren Malach.
1) Identify your skills
After 2 - 4 years of college or university, and all the experiences you’ve had in that time, you’ve undoubtedly developed a number of skills that can be useful to you in a career. Some of them you probably enjoy using more than others. Ask yourself: what do I like to do? From this simple question, you can derive a lot of information about the types of skills you have and enjoy using.
At first glance, some of your skills might not seem relevant to the workforce, but digging a little deeper into what about those particular skills you enjoy using can give insight. For example, maybe you enjoyed arranging social events for your floormates in rez. This could point to skills such as event coordinating, planning, organizing, and communication. It could also reflect your values such as community building, fun and togetherness, which are also important to identify when choosing a career.
2) Identify what you’re curious about
As humans, we’re all naturally curious about something. Maybe words like “passion” and “purpose” are too overwhelming for you to start unpacking – that’s okay. Most people don’t know what their passion or purpose is at such a young age, and for some, these words will never resonate at all.
Instead, move toward the things you’re curious about. What do you want to know more about? What makes you ask the question ‘why?’ What do you want to understand more deeply? What do you find yourself wondering, reading, or Googling questions about? Move toward your curiosity; you’re more likely to excel at something you’re curious about, simply because you’ll be motivated to learn about it over the long term.
3) Start talking to people
Now that you have identified your skills, and the things you’re curious about, you’ve now narrowed down your options considerably. But before jumping into a career, it’s important to gain further insight into them by talking to people already doing these things.
What’s a typical day like in this career? What skills does it use on a regular basis? What’s the work environment like? The closest way to find out if you’d possibly like a certain career without actually doing it, is to find out the details of what it’s like from people who actually work in those careers. The more people you meet and talk to, the clearer an idea you’ll have of the realities of a specific field.
This is where you ask yourself how you really feel about what you’ve learned. Is it something you could see yourself doing in the long term, or do you think you’d get bored after a while? Does it excite you, or fill you with dread? Does it align with your values, and desired lifestyle?
Charting your career path after graduation can seem daunting, especially when the world is telling you that you should already know what you want to do. The truth is that it takes time, intention and effort to make good career choices. It takes being deliberate about getting to know yourself, and your strengths and curiosities, and the willingness to learn the realities of possible career options.
The journey may take time to unfold, but not expecting to have it all figured out in a matter of weeks will help to lift some of the pressure off.
In time, you’ll be on your way.
To listen to the full episode that we had with Lauren Malach, click here.
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Written by Alia Rajab