Choosing A Career

The following are a few simple questions to ask when examining your career options:What am I interested in? The primary goal of any career plan should be to land a job that engages your interest. No matter what the perks of a given role may be: good wages, lively social life, or if the role is perceived as glamorous by the public; all that does not matter a whit if the you find the work as stimulating as a lecture on religious footwear in the late 13th century (and if you DO find that stimulating, well then, history or fashion is the obvious choice for you). Enjoying your work is the most important ingredient of a fulfilling career.

Different people want different things from life; some are driven to express themselves in a creative format, some may attach the greatest importance to financial security, while others will cherish an ambition of working for themselves. All motives for working are equally valid, and will have an affect on the type of career that you choose to pursue. For example, two people may be passionate about art, but often only one will value it enough to spend his/her working life attempting to earn a living in a world that it is not particularly well known for its job security.

Compiling a list of the skills that will prove useful in your favoured careers and comparing it with an honest outline of your own talents should also prove helpful. Many job skills will of course, be inculcated in you during your third level education; but there are soft skills such as communication, formal writing and project management that you should know by now whether you have a natural flair for them or not. For instance, is that career as a foreign correspondent or translator an achievable goal if you struggle with foreign languages? The object of this exercise is not to discourage yourself from a swathe of careers, but to form a realistic appraisal of where your real strengths may lie.

Sometimes the people who live and work around us have a clearer view of who we are than we do ourselves. Trying to decide upon a career can be a difficult and arbitrary process when we are young and with relatively little life experience behind us, so it makes good sense to speak to all around you – teachers, guidance counsellors, parents, friends – in order to glean a clearer picture of what kind person you are and what job might suit you.

Some good old-fashioned investigative work ought to stand you in good stead when formulating a short list of potential careers. Make the most of your school’s careers guidance service; read up on the various careers that interest you (starting with the Guide to Third Level & Further Education of course!), question relentlessly any friends or relations who are studying or working in an area of interest, and visit as many college open days and careers information exhibitions as possible.

What is most important at this early stage in your education and career development is that you avoid enrolling in what is, despite the absence of fees, a costly higher education to study a subject that does not interest you, for a career that will not satisfy you. For instance, sometimes students enrol in a course simply because there is a well-publicised shortage of workers in that industry or they avoid a course because it is rumoured to be difficult to get a job in that area.
Information such as this, while useful, should not be your guiding light when filling out the CAO form, simply because there is no way of knowing what the job situation in a given career will be in a few years’ time. The only person who can decide the best area for you to study and work in is you, so try to take on aboard the advice of others without straying too far from your own instincts. It is after all, your life.

Whatever the choice you make, it is important to remember that people today usually have more than one career during their working life, and that it is much easier to act upon a decision to change career or return to education on a part time or full time basis than was the case in the past. Your future is not set in stone by the CAO selections you make – but you can make your journey through adult life a little easier by finding the career that fits before you set out.

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