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Exploring your career options

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Published: 10 February 2022

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There’s a misconception among people applying to university, as well as current students, that you should already know what career you want while you’re studying. 

This idea is actually far from the truth, with many people choosing their courses based on things like interest or transferrable skills - you don’t need to have a specific career in mind, just being on a course that gives you the most options. 

But it’s never a bad thing to put a plan in place for your eventual career, even if that changes along the way.  

So, how do you go about working out what you want to do? Here are a few steps you can follow: 

What interests you 

The first step is to think about yourself - it’s OK to be selfish sometimes! Consider the kinds of things you like. That could be numbers, talking with people, writing, exploring, basically anything. 

You can think about the sorts of stuff you enjoy doing on your course. What modules have you liked the most? What assignments did you do particularly well in?  

But also go outside the box on here. Do you have any hobbies? What do you do in your free time?  

All of this can go towards finding passion in your career. 

Do the research 

Once you have a list of the sorts of things you like doing it’s time to find the jobs that match. Do some Googling job descriptions, salaries, requirements and tasks involved.  

Work out your top choices based on the things you care the most about (whether that’s the money or the daily tasks is entirely up to you) and get rid of the ones which are least appealing. 

Top tip: Make as big a list as you can, that way if you’re not sure about a career you can eliminate it and only have the things you know you would enjoy. 

Get talking 

As with everything else in the working world, who you know is of vital importance in finding your dream job. 

The people doing the job already will have a better insight than anyone into what it’s actually like in the industry.  

Get in touch with people through your social media (especially LinkedIn), talk to your lecturers for any insights and ask your friends and family if they know anyone working in the field you are interested in. 

Once you’ve made contact, talk to them about the day-to-day life in their jobs, the things they love, the things they find challenging and anything else you want to know.  

You might want to ask them if you could shadow them for the day, just to find out first-hand what it’s really like in the workplace.  

Alternatively, look for internships and work experience. It’s a great way to explore your options without much pressure. 

Go back to your choices 

The final step is to compare your experiences across each of the sectors, industries and jobs you’ve looked at. 

What did you enjoy the most? What did you find difficult? Do you have all the skills you need or would you benefit from a little extra training? 

The most important is to think about the kind of career you could have, not just if you would like the first step on the ladder. 

Consider whether you’d want to work your way up to the top of the company. That way you can start planning much further in the future.  

All of the advice above is useful if you’re not sure what you want to do with your work. But it’s also something people well into their careers should do too. 

It’s never a bad thing to reassess what you’re getting out of your working life, thinking about whether it’s still something you want to do and if there’s a different thing out there you might enjoy more. 

With a degree from the University of Sunderland in London, you’re positioning yourself for a brilliant career, whichever industry you want to work in. 

For more information, go to our Careers and Employability page. You can also read about employability skills on our news pages 

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