Deciding on a career may seem daunting but it is easier when you give yourself a lot of options and time to consider it. Although the idea of a "job for life" is fast becoming a thing of the past, the field of work which you choose is important because it will determine where you will spend a good deal of your working life and will also define how many opportunities you will have to branch out using your basic skills set. So, choose wisely and select a field that encompasses as many of your talents as possible, to allow you to the greatest freedom and leeway for shifting around a field doing different jobs with a good set of basic skills, along with a good dose of solid confidence in your worth and abilities.
Begin by determining what you like to do. A lot of people look to others to determine their career paths: teachers, parents, neighbours and peers. Think about people you respect and what they do for work. Take time to map out your wants and to match your skills with skills that are actively sought within certain fields of work. This will involve a fair bit of research work but it is well worth it.
Identify the skills you use when you're doing the thing(s) you enjoy. Look at the things you are good at doing already. These will give you a very good indication of what you are likely to enjoy doing by way of a career. For instance, perhaps you like being with animals. Already this simple but important enjoyment opens up a very broad field of work for you that encompasses such possible jobs as caring for animals, veterinary work, animal advocacy, transporting animals, calming animals (e.g., horse whispering), making animal clothing and feed items and running a pet store etc. Once you have identified a potential field, you are then ready to match your skills.
Think of fields broadly. A field of work is far more than a single job. It is an area in which many jobs or trades are possible and you should be able to consider your training and interests in terms of looking for a career path that will give you a shot at at least five related types of jobs that are available within that field. For instance, if you learn engineering, you might consider being an engineer out in the field (such as oil production), a manager of a site, an office manager, a trainer of engineering skills and a consultant in engineering. Or, if you study law, you may want to be a lawyer in a large law firm, a lawyer in a non-profit organization, a team leader in an office of any type (even non-law), a manager of a company or a writer of corporate compliance manuals. Realize that the breadth of the field will be determined in part by the training you receive and also by your own personal, up-to-date "skills set", as well as your willingness to try new things and to be retrained.
Consider cross-field work. When working out what you would like to be and what you will need to study to get to this point, give consideration to the possibilities involved in crossing fields; for instance, many teachers are good with word skills and hence make excellent editors and publishers. Think outside the square your title bestows (or will bestow) upon you.
Learn as much as possible about the qualifications required for fields that interest you. Library, internet and direct contact research will be required here. It is also helpful to ask your school, local community services, university etc. for assistance in career choices and development. Your thorough research will help you to determine quickly which areas you want to study in, as well as the depth of study required. Dig deep and look at third and fourth year subject/skills training requirements as well, so that you don't find any nasty surprises awaiting you, such as additional time or harder skills that do not match your interests or abilities.
Find people who work in the field and learn from them. Once you have worked out which specific jobs interest you, speak to those already working in these areas. This will enable you to hear their suggestions and to ask them what they like and dislike about the field in which they work. Sometimes you may even have an opportunity to do some work experience with a place that interests you, to help you to "get a feel" for the work involved.
Evaluate your choice of field according to your own perceptions and the information you have gathered. Assess the comments you've received, weigh these up with your research work and add in your own feelings about your potential career path. This is now the time to decide whether this career continues to appeal to you. Do not forget to include the type of lifestyle you would like in the balancing equation. If you make enormous compromises as to the type of lifestyle that you ultimately want, you may be unhappy and live to regret this. As such, it is wise to try and combine your career choice with a lifestyle balance, with minor or short-term compromises rather than major, long-term ones.
Sign up for an educational or training program in the career of your choice. While studying, do not neglect to take advantage of networking opportunities and chances to work in your career field either as a volunteer or in short-term paid positions. These opportunities will give you the best possible feel for the work and the types of people in the field that you will be working with. It will help you to filter out any unneeded areas of study or to take on additional subjects and skills training that may be of possible use and could help to extend your horizons.
Keep positive. When you are finally trained and ready to find that dream career, the most important thing is to maintain a positive outlook about your life and to be ready for change, difference and shifts in your comfort zones. This is the real world and it moves rapidly; it is important to keep up with changes and to take a positive approach by making opportunities out of challenges. However, always keep what is unique about you because at the end of the day, that is the special something many employers are looking for while they choose from many skilled and educated workers available to them.
Adapted from wikiHow