On Tuesday 6th February, InvestIN delivered a workshop for students and parents designed to answer the commonly asked question: “How do I decide on my future career?”
This article pulls together the key takeaways from the workshop and provides links to further resources to help you in your decision making.
Click here to watch the recording of the workshop.
“How do I decide on my future career?” - Key talking points for students
- What are your long-term career goals?
Your career is not one specific job! Students today will change jobs on average at least 12 different times throughout the course of their lifetime, with many expected to move between different sectors and industries during their professional journey (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). With this in mind, it’s important to keep an open mind when it comes to thinking about your future, and to remember that you are not simply restricted to the profession you choose to do now. There are thousands of fantastic opportunities out there which you might not even know about yet, so it’s important to keep your options open and explore different industries that might suit you.
During this decision making, think holistically about your career and reflect on what you want to achieve throughout the journey. Do you have any specific goals in mind? Keep these goals in mind during your career exploration, to make sure you have clear direction to your decision making.
- What is important to you in a future career?
You can start to narrow down your options and figure out what you might want to do by reflecting on your own personal ‘career values’. These are the factors that are most important to you in a career, which you should prioritise when making decisions about your future. Everyone has different values and priorities, meaning that it’s important to spend some time reflecting on your own experiences and consider what you would want from your future career.
Examples of some factors to consider about a future profession include:
- Alignments with your interests
- Flexibility & work-life balance
- Progression, learning and development opportunities
- Security & stability
- Ability to make a difference through your work
- Long-term opportunities of the industry
Take some time to reflect on each of these ideas and consider if there are any professions which align with your values. Which factors are most important to you in your career? Are there any others that motivate you? Which, perhaps, would you be willing to compromise on?
- What are your strengths and skillsets?
Everyone has a different skillset as well as different preferences for their future career. It is important to consider what you are good at inside and outside of school, but it is equally important to recognise what you enjoy. This could be anything from your favourite subject at school, to any extra-curriculars or hobbies you participate in. What we enjoy tends to reflects what we are good at, which can help us recognise where our strengths and skillsets lie.
Another way to recognise your strengths and skillsets is to reflect on how our family and friends would describe you. Consider how they would describe you in three words and how this could translate into understanding your skillset. If, for example, they were to describe you as; funny, kind and confident, this could suggest that you are a good communicator and have strong interpersonal skills.
Once you have acknowledged and identified your skillset, this can start to shape what working environment you would be best suited to. Using the previous example, someone who has strong interpersonal skills and is a good verbal communicator may be best suited to working with people in a team environment. To then assess where you skillset could take you in industry, you can apply you interests onto this. If your interests and hobbies include debating and politics, you may then consider jobs such as activism or campaigning. You strengths and skillsets combined with your interests and passions will help give you are strong idea of what your future career may look like.
- Where do your interests lie?
Take time to explore different sectors, industries and job functions available today. There are plenty of jobs you are well suited to – you just don’t know what they are yet! Try to find new opportunities through your online research and expand your knowledge through articles, documentaries and podcasts to see what takes your interest.
Don’t underestimate the importance of speaking to people and asking for advice. Think about who amongst your network of family members, friends, teachers and careers advisors would be able to provide you with guidance on your career These could include your family members, friends, teachers and careers advisors. Also try to find out who they know that works in an industry you are interested in.
- What experience do you have?
One of the simplest ways to figure out what you might want to do in the future is by gaining first-hand experience of different industries and job types.
Increase your exposure to different industries by getting involved in a wide variety of opportunities, and try to learn about how you work in different professional environments. There are many ways you can do this, for example through volunteering in school (e.g. organising a fundraiser or bake sale), shadowing a professional who works in an industry you are interested in, supporting local community events or creating an independent portfolio of all of your work. All these experiences will help you develop key professional and employability skills important for the job market today, and will help you learn a little more about the type of work that will suit you in the future.
You can read more about the importance of work experience, and the opportunities we recommend, in our blog article here.
Remember – you are only at the beginning of your career journey! Try to use this time to build your knowledge and experience in your industries of interest, and seek advice and guidance from the people around you who have had their own experiences.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Throughout the workshop, we answered a variety of questions submitted by students about deciding on a future career. Take a look below to read our advice!
“How do I decide on my A Levels if I’m not sure what I want to do yet?”
Deciding on your A Levels/IBs can seem daunting at this stage of your career journey, especially if you are unsure of what it is you might like to do in the future. If you are in a similar position, we recommend asking yourself three questions.
- What do you enjoy? This should be the main question guiding your choices. After all, you will spend the next two years – or longer- studying these subjects. Putting your passions first will give you confidence and boost your motivation over the years ahead.
- What are you good at? If there’s a subject you find you excel in or performed well in at GCSE, it might be worth considering if you could continue it. Read through the syllabus and weight it up against your skills. Some subjects are very coursework heavy, whilst others, like science subjects, mostly depend on exams.
- Do you need to meet certain entry requirements? If you have a university course you want to study, then entry requirements are key. Some courses, such as medicine or engineering, require specific subjects at A-Level with very little flexibility. The vast majority of university courses do not have specific requirements, so make sure you do your research beforehand.
For further advice on choosing your A-Levels, take a look at our Ultimate Guide here.
“What work experience should I do if I haven’t decided on my career?”
Even if you haven’t decided on your career path, work experience can still be beneficial to help you navigate that decision.
There is no right or wrong answer for deciding what work experience to complete, however, any work experience you are able to complete will be useful regardless of whether you change your mind on your future career. Work experience allows you to practice what life would be like in the workplace and gain transferable skills that will be valuable across industries.
However, in order to make the most of your work experience, you want to ensure that you are interested in the work that you will be doing. To work out what work experience will be best for you, consider researching these areas:
- How do you work? If you are a collaborative worker, you may not want to join a workplace that places a heavy emphasis on individual work. Similarly, if you find that you struggle with written tasks you may want to look for work experience that involves a more practical element.
- What are you interested in? When completing work experience, you want to ensure that you will find the work interesting. You do not need to have your career figured out to get meaningful work experience, however, we recommend finding work experience that reflects your interests in order for you to get the most out of the experience.
For more information on workplaces, take a look at our week in the workplace here.
Discover Your Future Career through our Career Quiz
Our Career Quiz is designed to help students aged 12-18 discover an industry that aligns with their aspirations. Through a series of questions, we'll assess your skills and interests, and analyse how these align with different career sectors. You will then receive an email detailing your results and which career we believe you should consider. Plus, you will receive a personalised report identifying your strengths and what you can be doing now to help with your future career.
Recommend InvestIN Resources:
We’ve compiled a list of further InvestIN articles and resources that might be helpful as you start out on your career journey:
- Going the Extra Mile: The Importance of Work Experience for Your Future
- Skills of the Future Resource Pack
- 8 Ways to Improve Your Employability at School
- Skills Advice from 20 Top Professionals
- InvestIN’s Ultimate Guide Series:
Keep an eye on our blogs page for more career advice and guidance!
How can InvestIN help you decide on your future career?
InvestIN deliver career experience programmes in 15 exciting careers, allowing students to test-drive their dream careers before you leave school. This Spring we have 1-day weekend programmes available in-person in London or live online, with information available here. We are also running our flagship 1 or 2-week Summer Experiences in July August, giving students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working alongside professionals in exciting industry venues. To register and find out more, head to our Summer Experiences page here.