Many seem to struggle with figuring out what to do with their talents and their passions, and I meet other students all the time that are either in Higher Education because they parents said they had to, or because they have no idea what they want to do with their lives. I firmly believe that to be happy in life and in your career, you have to love what you do.
Another important point to make is that even though your family and friends might know you well and mean well when they suggest what you spend large chunks of your time and energy on, the one person you really need to listen to, is yourself.
I fell into Social Media and other Online Marketing types. No, I am not joking. I knew half way through my first year at University of Essex that I needed both experience and a steady income, so I started looking for options that would cover my 2nd year. I ended up applying for Frontrunner-positions, which is the name of the university’s paid placement scheme. I was honestly hoping to get a job that allowed me to use my 1/3 finished degree, working with the people behind the local Book Festival, I did not.
I landed two interviews, neither for the position I thought I wanted the most – but it was a good thing! Being a good girl I read up on what to do and not to do during a Skype interview, knowing it was either that or a phone interview I would end up with, as I was home in Norway over the summer. I did, and my first interview went well enough that they offered me the job. Thinking through it, it looked like a better opportunity than the one I had been offered an interview for a couple of days later. I can say that because the one I took allowed me to build something from what was barely basis, and so I fell into a job doing stuff I loved for 12 hours a week. My job at the university also allowed me to meet Founder of Career Circus Ltd, Saffron!
Now I have a job that gives me flexibility and challenges all at once, and that I think have allowed me to grow quite a bit as a person since I started in it. However, I had two ideas for what I wanted to use my degree for: Teaching or Creative Writing. In a odd kind of way, I do both now, but in completely different ways to what I would have thought back in 2011.
My point in telling you this is that I don’t think you can plan everything. I think sometimes not looking for opportunities is healthy too, but that you still need to work to reach your goals. If you are struggling with finding your career path, my advise would be to talk to someone who knows you well and get their input: Sometimes those who know us know us better than we do ourselves. I would suggest that it would be a good idea to book an appointment with a Careers Advisor. Preferably Saffron, but I might be biased!
My third tip is this: Write a list of all the things you can think up as a profession that you either see as a likely option for yourself or that is what others have done with your type of education, skills and previous experience: When you are done, start crossing out the ones you cannot see yourself in for five years in a row, and then keep crossing options out until you really need to start focusing on what you are doing: The options left are the ones you actually want to know more about and would probably like working as!
Marie Mathisen is the Digital Acrobat for Career Circus Ltd, she is also in her last year studying a BA in English Literature at the University of Essex, and blogging about what to do with her life after University.