Just like the students preparing themselves for higher education, the key is to start thinking about your options early on. Remember, people can change careers, and some do so several times. So there is no such thing as a mistake, and it often takes people a while to work out what is the right choice of career for them.

However, thinking about the following questions will help you to make a good choice:

  • What type of career appeals to me? What will make me get out of bed each morning with a smile (most days) rather than a frown?
  • What sort of work would suit my character best? What are my strengths and skills?
  • Do I want a career where I am providing a public service, or helping people? Do I want to be in an office environment?
  • Do I want to be out and about in the community?
  • Do I prefer something more practical, more hands on?
  • How ambitious am I? Do I want a career with good prospects of early promotion
  • Am I prepared to work long hours? How do I feel about working shifts?
  • Would I like to eventually work for myself? Is this a possibility in the line of work that I am considering?
  • Does the career I am interested in provide good training? What would be the next step after I train?
  • What is the salary like? Is it enough to have a reasonable lifestyle in the longer term? Does this matter to me?
  • How hard is it to find a job in my sphere of interest? Is there job security? How much does this matter to me?
  • Would it be beneficial to go to college or university first? Would not going actually be a disadvantage to me longer term?

The answers won’t necessary be obvious or come overnight. Each question will invariably prompt more questions and further reflection. Sometimes, you will only know your response once you have worked a few shifts, dealt with a difficult customer and complaint, or written your tenth report. Some individuals have the right set of skills to deal with certain situations, whilst others’ strengths lie elsewhere.
Identifying your own individual skills and attributes is therefore an essential part of the process of finding a career which will fulfil you. Start early on this process of self-awareness, and explore some of the tips and guidance in the sections that follow.

That way, you will hopefully wear a smile at work, rather than a frown.