“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
This question may have seemed so easy to answer when you were 4 – maybe an astronaut, a doctor, nurse, teacher, police officer or any number of other professions. Sure, there are some who will have wanted to be a super-hero too, but let’s stick to reality a little bit here.
I can clearly remember once deciding that I wanted to be a bin-man – I just liked the idea of being able to cheerily say ‘good morning’ to people and drive about in the lorry. Like me, as you got older, you have probably changed your mind on what career you wanted – possibly several times over. It might be the realisation that there is more out there than you imagined, or perhaps, like me, you decided that actually the job you originally liked wasn’t quite what you imagined when you were small.
It is perhaps ironic then, as you become less sure of what you want to do, people start expecting you to make some solid decisions about your future. This may be choosing subjects at school, college, or even thinking about what to study at university. Alternatively, it could be about choosing which apprenticeship or job to apply for.
Of course, there are always those who know exactly what they want to do (and probably have since they were 4). You see them on the TV sometimes, saying annoying things like, “I always knew I wanted to be a train driver / astrophysicist.” But, for most people, this laser-like focus on your career doesn’t exist. Whether that is because there are a few ideas that you like, or if you simply don’t know where to start with deciding, your focus seems more like looking through someone else’s prescription glasses.
But you are still expected to choose something. So what do you do?
Ultimately, your best bet is to keep your options open. So, if you are choosing subjects to study, try not to specialise to closely in one area. Instead make sure you keep a broad sweep of opportunities available to you – your teachers or career advisors should be able to help you with this.
Another good idea is to look at the things you like doing and see how these could be worked into your career. Of course, these interests need to be tied to the skills you have too. You may like watching football but, unless you’re particularly good, your chances of playing for your favourite team are probably slim to say the least. However, that doesn’t mean that you would have to rule out football as an industry – how about getting a job working for your club’s media team, or getting involved in other aspects, such as physiotherapy?
Don’t forget that some trades are also in demand at a number of different places – a car mechanic may work in a local garage, but you will also find them in motorsports, a film set, museums, or any other place where someone will be needed to fix a vehicle.
You might also want to think about what sort of careers will be available to you in the future – although this takes a little research and imagination!
If you need a little inspiration for your career then you can find some right here on NotGoingtoUni, or just look at the list of apprenticeships available in your area to see what is out there.
The fact is, there are plenty of different options out there across different industries, job sectors, and interests. If you can combine your skills and your likes, then you are certainly on to a winner. Of course, if not, keeping your options open and buying some more time doesn’t hurt – that way if one route isn’t all you expected, you can always switch to something else.