Navigating Your Unique Career Path

So, you just finished your exams and have your eyes set on a dream job? Fantastic! But now what? When you leave school there are so many options and opportunities in front of you it can be difficult to know what route to take. Rather than focusing on a specific job, think about your unique career path instead.

Some people are interested in further education and getting a degree, while others want to find a job straight away. If you need to gain experience, there are also options like apprenticeships and work placements. Defining what you want your life to look like or the goals you have for the future can help you get started.

The First Steps

Sometimes, the hardest thing about making decisions can be that there seems to be too much choice. Knowing which path or career is right for you can be quite stressful. What if I get it wrong or if I miss something out? What will people think of me if I fail? How do I choose?

In the past, we have talked about forming the trajectory of your life and establishing goals and milestones. In this blog, we’ll walk you through each step so you can get from where you are right now to where you want to be! The key is to open your mind and explore as many ideas and options as possible. Talk to as many people as you can and find out what they do. Be inquisitive! Explore how things work and how people’s roles fit into processes. For example, check out a business and get an understanding of who does what and what they did to get there. This way, you’ll find it easier to work out what is and isn’t for you.

The Journey Starts While You’re in Education

GCSEs have opened the door to many paths, they allow you to move on to other things like apprenticeships or A-Levels. Which in turn, can lead to diplomas or degrees. Not every job needs you to have years of formal education but for some, it’s a necessity. If you want to get into the medical field, that requires specialised training. But even if education is not necessary, it can be a great chance to learn and network with people in the industries you are interested.

As well as finding out if that field does indeed interest you. Education is a time of personal growth. You’ll learn just as much about yourself, as the subjects you study. Discover what your strengths are, what you’re passionate about or what’s not going so well. This is also an opportunity to change course, should you want to. Better to find out now than later!

Work Experience, Volunteering & Apprenticeships

With exams out of the way, it’s the perfect time to dive into work experience, volunteering, or apprenticeships. If you’ve never had a job before, that’s okay – everyone has to start somewhere. Volunteering and work experience are great ways to see what a job is really like and figure out if it suits you.

Apprenticeships are available in almost any career. Are you interested in finance, fashion, science, or something else? Employers all over the UK offer apprenticeships in these fields. As an apprentice, you’ll get to earn some money while studying for a qualification and gaining real work experience. Some programs even let you try out different departments so you can find out which part of the business you enjoy the most!

Taking on work experience, volunteering, or an apprenticeship will not only boost your skills and experience but also help you get a clearer idea of what you want to do in the future.

Finding a Job

Finding a job is a great way to start building your career. Begin by researching various roles and industries that interest you. Consider your hobbies, what you enjoy, and your skills to identify potential job matches. Even jobs like working in retail, can be valuable. These roles help you develop confidence and communication skills, which are useful in many careers.

Some careers require you to have a formal education. If you’re interested in working in the medical field, you may be required to have certain qualifications. Whether you’re continuing your education or not, look for jobs that offer relevant experience. For example, if you want to be a racing car engineer, starting in a garage can be a good stepping stone.

Career paths can be direct or indirect, and gaining experience in different roles is a great way to learn and network. In the past, company loyalty was often rewarded with promotions and going up the ladder. Today, it’s common to move between jobs to find the next rung and advance your career.

Do it Yourself!

Not everyone is interested in working for someone else or having a strict 9-5 job. For some people, a ‘dream career’ is about being able to live a certain lifestyle. Setting up your own business can give you flexibility, independence, or the freedom to be creative and follow a passion you have. If this is something you’re interested in, do it! Perhaps your dream career is creative, like filmmaking, which you can do with a phone and an eye for lighting. Or build a social media presence around your cooking skills as you work your way towards a fancy kitchen career!

If this is the career path you’re interested in, there may be skills you are required to learn. You’ll need to use your own initiative and motivate yourself. Do lots of research, find online courses or start with some ‘practice’ projects. This will help strengthen your experience and portfolio.

Don’t be afraid to try networking, as this route can be isolating. Even if you speak with others in your field of interest only as friends, without expectation of an advantage in a career, it can help you mentally. If networking makes you nervous, start by speaking to people in your field of interest in a friendly way. Ask about their experiences and journeys and learn from their stories.

There is No Wrong Way

It doesn’t matter how long it takes, how ‘wrong’ things go, or if you land somewhere entirely unexpected, the path is yours alone. Be flexible in your goals and celebrate all the victories along the way, no matter how tiny! Each step you take is a step closer to a career you have dreamed of. A good way to stay positive in this long journey ahead of you is to spend some time thinking about your aspirations and reflecting on the things that you are grateful for.

Want to give it a go? Check out our book, My Five-Minute Future Toolbox Journal. By spending five minutes at the beginning and end of your day, you can stay on track of your goals and make the most of the present moment. Writing down your goals will help you focus on your next steps and reflect on the progress you’ve made so far!

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