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The trick to figuring out your career direction

Career Month is November 1-30, 2021

November 4, 2021 — 

Getting experience is the best way to figure out who you are and what you want in your life and career.  This includes volunteering, part-time and summer jobs, co-op, coursework, practicums, clubs, and even your hobbies. Any time you try something, you are given clues as to what you might enjoy in your career future. Here are a few of the ways getting experience can teach you about what’s next on your career journey.

Learn what you love. You won’t know you love something until you give it a try. Put yourself out there, explore new opportunities, and pay attention to what you enjoy. If something sounds interesting, it’s worth going for it. You never know when you will uncover a new passion that can lead to amazing career possibilities for you. A good strategy when you’re career undecided is to simply keep putting yourself into interesting jobs and let your interests lead you along. Being openminded and curious are key ingredients in happy, healthy careers.

Learn what you hate. Just as you learn what you want more of in your career, experience will teach you what you’d like to avoid at all costs. This information is just as important for determining what you want. For example, avoid jobs that involve writing or customers or working outside or sitting at a desk all day if you’ve discovered you despise those tasks. Even through negative experiences, you’ll narrow your career options a little further and get yourself closer to finding personally meaningful work.

Find your strengths. The more you do, the sooner you’ll determine what you’re best at. When your courses and work use your talents, you’re more likely to feel fulfilled and content in your career journey. You’ll also be more likely to find success, since you’re working in an area that comes more naturally to you. Of course, skills are built and it can take time to achieve mastery. Take the time to uncover your strengths and build them to their fullest potential.

Get a vivid picture of real jobs. Work and volunteering can place you right in the action of a workplace. See for yourself what happens in a typical day, meet the key players, and involve yourself in the process. Through experience, you’ll discover the specific jobs available in that organization and whether you’d like to pursue them. You’ll also improve your chances of advancement, since you already have your foot in the door at an employer you’re interested in.

Ask questions of real workers. If you are working or volunteering alongside professionals, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn from them. Take the time to ask questions and discover how they got to their current role, what they like about work, and any advice they have for you. This information can then guide you and help you determine your next steps.

You probably won’t figure out your career direction overnight, but gradually, the more you do and try, the closer you will get to determining the next steps in your career journey.

If you’d like to identify experiences that can support your specific career goals, attend Map Your Career – Get the Experience to Move you Forward! on November 15 at 1:30 PM. You’ll leave this workshop with a tailored plan and a list of relevant experiences to engage in.

This article is a part of the November 2021 Career Month series. To view all of the Career Month initiatives including events, articles, and tips click here.

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