How to choose your career path

Four things to think about when embarking on your graduate career.

Everyone’s journey into their career is different, some know from the age of six that they want to be an astronaut which makes it easier to plan ahead how they are going to achieve this, which by the way requires a Bachelor degree in a related field and either three years professional experience or 1,000 hours as a pilot of a jet engine to be considered as a candidate for the NASA training programme.

Some six year olds however, do not know what they want to be and spend all their time memorising the words to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme tune (showing my age here).

The good news is, if you fell into the latter category of six-year olds and have an excellent knowledge of TV soundtracks but very little idea of what to after finishing University, there is hope for you yet, you just need to consider the following four things:

The average person spends 30% of their time at work

30% of all of their time, another 30% is spent sleeping the other 40% includes eating, seeing friends, dealing with personal admin, doing your washing, dating, watching TV, going to gigs, having a lovely time and spending the money they worked so hard to earn. Everything else going on in your life only takes up 10% more of your time, so it is worthwhile thinking carefully about what job is right for you.

You don’t have to work in the area you studied

You’ve just completed 3-4 years studying a subject and have come to the conclusion that maybe it just isn’t for you, and you don’t want to pursue it any further. No problem, most employers now accept applications from candidates of any subject, as long as you can demonstrate that your degree has helped you developed the desirable skills such as research, analysis, communication, organisation and independence. Luckily, nearly every modern degree will require you to form these skills, so you can start your job hunt with much broader horizons than anticipated.

Would you flourish more in a structured graduate scheme or a more flexible, one-off role?

Both types of job have their benefits for the right candidates. Some graduates appreciate being able to plot their progression and have a clear view of what they need to achieve in a graduate scheme to get to the next stage. There is often a stronger feeling of job security and you get to start alongside other graduates in the same boat as you.

Some graduates, however, would find a graduate scheme too restrictive, they need a role where you have more freedom to showcase your skills and progress as quickly or slowly as it takes. Individual graduate job roles within a business can offer a candidate the flexible to experiment within their role to find what works for their skillset, rather than training themselves to fit a regimented job description.

You just need to know which type is better suited to you.

Do you live to work, or work to live?

As previously mentioned, you spend an awful lot of time at work, so you need to figure out what motivates you. Is it a high salary and multiple fiscal benefits, or are you more results driven, appreciating having your work recognised far more than being paid a little extra? Again, everyone is different but it can help when choosing your career to consider how you would keep yourself motivated within that role if you were having an off day.

It’s worth asking in interviews about staff incentives, which aside from being monetary rewards, could include an award scheme amongst colleagues or public recognition of good work.