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"I don't know what to do with my life!"

Written by Emma Burbidge Posted in Career Planning, Careers

Let’s face it, you are going to need a job at some point! There is only so far that living on benefits can get you, and having a steady career is a sure fire way to success and happiness in other aspects of your future.

It’s normal to feel unsure about what you want to do. In many cases, people don’t fully know what they want to do until they are in their twenties or even older. So don’t be worried if you don’t know what you want to do yet as there is still plenty of time to figure it out!

Nevertheless, it is worth thinking about your future, as some careers are much easier to enter early in life. It also helps to plan things like study or training which may help you achieve your career goals.

So how can you find out what career will be right for you?

  • Think about what interests you. While you might work to ‘bring home the bacon’, enjoying your job is really important, especially as eventually you could be working eight hours a day, five days a week! Do you want to do work that long in something that doesn’t interest you? While you may find yourself working in something menial or boring to start with, perhaps to fund further study, at the end of the day what you really want is an interesting career. So think about what your interests and hobbies are, and research possible careers around that.
  • Think about what you are good at. While enjoying your work is really important, doing something you are good at is equally so. Everyone is good at something. So think long and hard about what you are good at, and research possible careers around that. Also, take the time to think about new and exciting ways to utilise your skills, demonstrate them to potential employers and develop them further.
  • Talk to your adviser. You can talk to your TCHC adviser about different careers, what might be right for you and how you could get there. There are also resources such as Prospects and the National Careers Service which can assist with CVs, application forms and action planning.
  • Do your research. A simple Google search can help you look for companies in a particular industry. A company’s ‘careers’ or ‘work for us’ page might indicate whether a particular job role, industry or company is for you!
  • Go to your local library. Libraries have a tonne of resources which can help you work out what you want to do. Many even have a special careers section! Look out for directories providing lists of companies in your area which you could approach for work experience or work shadowing. Other literature such as ‘The 100 Best Companies to Work For’ can provide useful information about careers and companies you might like to work for in the future.
  • Ask relatives and family friends. Some people choose to follow a particular career path because their parents or relatives have followed it. While this might not always be particularly helpful, as you should ultimately choose the career that is right for you, sometimes it can be helpful in gaining insight and advice about a particular industry. They can also be useful contacts to help you get a foot in the door!
  • Work Shadowing. This is an excellent way of identifying what you might enjoy doing. This involves following a professional around for the day, watching what they do and learning lots about their job role and their day-to-day tasks. This may sound boring but it can be really useful in determining what career is for you!
  • Work Experience. Work experience can provide an introduction to a career and could lead to a whole world of new opportunity. It is also an excellent addition to anyone’s CV as it shows commitment and willingness to work. Most work experience placements last around 1-2 weeks and many companies are happy to take on 16 and 17 year olds. No, you don’t normally get paid for your work, but think about the experience and if nothing else, it can really help you decide what job is (and isn’t) for you!
  • Volunteering. This is similar to work experience as you are gaining an insight into the world of work and not getting paid. It is also the perfect opportunity to utilise your skills and develop them further while making new friends and having fun! Sometimes you also get the chance to train for qualifications which can help you in your career. As well as getting some useful experience to put on your CV, it also demonstrates to an employer that you are just the sort of caring and kind person they should be employing in their company!
  • Apprenticeships. Becoming an apprentice allows you to work and train at the same time. You get paid less than the normal minimum wage but you could end up with a permanent job and an exciting and fulfilling career.

It is worth making an action plan to keep you focused, as it could take a number of years to achieve your career goals. This will also help you decide what education or training is needed, whether this be A Levels, a vocational course or apprenticeship.


About the Author

Emma Burbidge

Emma Burbidge

Emma Burbidge is the marketing assistant at TCHC. She helps to manage the website and promote the Youth Contract. She enjoys writing for the blog and sharing advice and tips with young people on a range of topics, from finding a job to battling with depression.

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