Feeling pressured into choosing one career pathway for your whole life? Keep reading.
The age of our parents and grandparents was to pick one career pathway and stick with it for their whole life. But for Millennials and Gen-Z, we’re seeing more and more interest in pursuing a variety of careers within one lifetime. Choosing a dead-set career destination can feel pressurising and overwhelming. We want to normalise not knowing what you want to do, and encourage you to turn this pressure into positivity.
Imagine knowing what you want to do for the rest of your life as if you were standing in front of a single door and just given the key to open it and walk inside: too easy, right? Not knowing what you want to do is like standing in front of a series of doors that are all locked, but you have to find the keys to each of them in order to open them. As long as you’re aware that you always have the key (or the ability) to open these doors, how much more exciting does that feel?
“Longitudinal studies in the US of the youngest of the baby boomer generation (born 1957-1964) shows that they changed jobs an average of 12.3 times between the ages of 18 and 52." (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019)
“Maybe you would change careers every 10 years” - Linn, Sort Youth Advisory Panelist
We spoke to our Youth Advisory Panelists, aged 18 to 25. They all welcomed change and weren’t afraid of it, but struggled to identify the skills that they need to be able to transfer between different career pathways (transferable skills). This is the key to feeling confident enough to switch up your career, to quit your job at whatever age you are, and know that you can make it doing anything you set your mind to.
To read more about the top ten transferable skills employers are looking for and how to apply them to job roles, click here.
Career change is scary
There's no denying that changing careers, no matter what age you are, is daunting. We want to normalise career change so that it takes the pressure off that initial decision that you're encouraged to make straight out of school.
This has been made even scarier following the Coronavirus pandemic.
“53% of workers plan to make changes to their careers in the next 12 months as a direct result of the Coronavirus pandemic.” (Aviva, 2020)
What if you don’t even know where to begin?
What if no job role or career field in particular calls out to you?
One of our panelists thought about this problem in reverse:
“Knowing what you don’t want to do is a good start.” - Linn, Sort Youth Advisory Panelist
Working in reverse order can actually be beneficial, helping you narrow down your options. For instance, if you know for sure that you don’t want to work at a desk all day, excluding desk-jobs from your career search will leave you with options that are more appealing to you and your future.
Another helpful tip is to try your best to have the mindset that there is no ‘right decision’ and that plans can always change (and to welcome this change). Even if you make your decisions for your A level subjects and do the right subjects, you might always change your mind - and this is okay.
“You should just go with the flow and see what happens.” - Muna, Sort Youth Advisory Panelist
Choosing a subject that gives you a breadth of different options post-education can be the best way to ease your mind when thinking about your future, however choosing courses that feel geared only towards one career path, such as Law, Medicine, or Veterinary Science, can be equally as useful for a variety of pathways. It's more about how you transfer knowledge and skills gained during your study than the actual course itself.
If you've decided on a uni course that feels one-track or unenjoyable, click here to read our advice.
We recently spoke to Erin, a fourth year student at the University of Exeter, who took a placement year in her third year, working as a research intern at Disney. She described doing a placement year as a great opportunity to try out experiences, even if you don't necessarily know if that pathway is set in stone for you:
"It’s a good road-test to see what you’ll find it like, and also to have a practice at a graduate role. [...] you’ve still learned something in that year. You can talk to all the other colleagues around you and understand what they do and what you might like to do which is different." - Erin, fourth year student at the University of Exeter.
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