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The world of work can be a confusing and complicated place. If you’re coming to the end of your formal education, you are probably wondering what sort of career to pursue. Or perhaps you’re stuck in a dead-end job and are desperate for a fresh start. Either way, you need to take action now.
Committing to a long-term career path is a risky business when you don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for. How do you know whether you’ll actually like being a teacher, or lab technician, or policeman, or stockbroker, or social worker, or sales rep? Other than your educational qualifications and a vague notion of “what you want to be when you grow up” how can you get any useful information about getting a job? How can you gain the experience to help you make up your mind?
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We’ve come up with seven ways to help you get closer to finding your dream career or business without wasting time heading off in the wrong direction.
1. Be True to Yourself When Looking for a Job
This is easier said than done, especially when you might not have worked out who you are yet. But the trick here is not to discard your dreams just because they seem unrealistic or impractical. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it certainly won’t be built at all if you’re afraid of laying the first brick.
So whether you really love techno DJing or are fascinated by getting a job in the stock market, you need to trust your inner confidence and go for it. You don’t want to sleepwalk into a “safe” career only to wake up to a full-blown midlife crisis decades later, wondering why you sold all your hopes and aspirations down the river.
2. Nurture Your Hobbies
Do you have any hobbies that you are passionate about and wish you could turn into an income-earning activity? There’s only one way to find out. Keep nurturing your hobby and look for opportunities to use it. You might only be able to devote weekends to your dream career to begin with. A budding photographer, for example, might contact local community groups and charities who may have a need but no budget for a photographer. Providing free photography services in exchange for building your portfolio could be the start into a brand-new career in business.
3. Try Something New
A wise person once said: If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten. Change can only come when you break out of the rut, even if you don’t know necessarily where it’s going to take you.
So if you’re cooped up in an office job and wish you could be outside, try to find opportunities to volunteer. For example, you might enjoy being a park ranger, a gardener, or a dog walker. Try it and see how you feel about it. Or if your job is more physical in nature but you’re longing for a chance to develop your administrative or managerial skills, find a suitable outlet for your interests. Volunteer at your local library or school. Join a worthy cause, or brush up on your computer skills. Sharpening skills you don’t use in your current job is an excellent way to broaden your horizons and further your future career options.
4. Try an “Experience Day”
Wouldn’t it be great to spend a day in the life of your dream job, just to see whether the reality matches up with your expectations? Well, you can by booking yourself onto an “Experience Day” with Into the Blue if you’re in the UK.
Whether you’re curious about barista training or floristry or any other career, take a short course or workshop. This will offer you plenty of insight into what it’s all about. It won’t give you all the skills overnight, obviously, but it will provide you with enough information to be able to make an intelligent decision about your next career move.
5. Attend a Career Speed Dating Event When You’re Ready to Get a Job
Many career events at schools, colleges, and universities have now cottoned on to the idea of using the concept of “speed dating.” This concept can maximize networking opportunities between students and career professionals. Career speed dating events are a great way to quiz alumni on their career choices. Take with you a list of quick-fire questions aimed at getting as much information possible in a short period of time. This format can be hugely helpful in gaining inspiration, ideas, and guidance for your path ahead.
6. Try out Lots of Different Types of Work
Taking time out after you’ve finished college or university, and before you embark on a serious career, can be a wise move. But be sure to use the time constructively. Giving yourself permission to defer committing to a “proper” job gives you the breathing space to try out lots of things and help you clarify your eventual career direction. Cram in as many jobs as you can and across as many industry sectors as possible. Try everything that piques your interest, from bar work to charity fundraising, to working in a call center to assisting on a home building site. Try not to limit yourself you familiar surroundings, either. Perhaps you could even spend some time abroad. All of this will help to give you a rounded picture of what the world of work is all about. It will help you find your niche.
7. Shadow Someone Who Is Doing a Job You Want
If you’re really curious about a particular occupation or business opportunity, the best way to find out if it’s for you is to actually spend time doing it. How do you do this if you don’t have the requisite skills or qualifications? Even more pertinent, is how can you make this happen without applying for the position and making the commitment to taking the job, should it be offered? Shadowing is the answer. Contact the company and ask if you can spend a day/week/month as a work placement or work shadow. Let them know you’re highly motivated to find out more about the position. That way, you can spend some time in the life of an electrician, or an accountant, or a social media manager, or whatever you’ve set your heart on.