By now, if you’ve followed the steps in previous posts, you should have a list of subject areas of interest and possible course choices in your notebook.
Here’s where the research really begins – research every course on your list – check out subjects taught each year – perhaps find out who the lecturers are. Speak with other students or arrange to meet some of the department staff. Go to open days or preview lectures if you can. Most institutions now offer online learning programmes so you can find out more about and sample the courses on offer.
You may not be over the moon about all the subjects, but as long as say 80% of it is interesting, you’ll probably manage to get through the stuff you’re less bothered about.
Rank your list of course in order of preference (ignoring the projected points requirements) – make sure you put courses you really would love at the top of your list, even if you don’t think you’ll get the points, because you never know what might happen.
Hopefully you will now have worked carefully through all the factors:
- Your self, your personality, skills, talents, areas of interest
- Your influences and beliefs
- The course or preferred area of study
- The college or institution
- The possible career options
Only you will know how relevant or important all the elements are above in relation to each other. Obviously some level of pragmatism may be needed – so if you want to study how to make wooden barrels, that’s up to you, you just need to understand what the career possibilities may be out of that.
Once you know roughly what your points target is, in the Best, Worst and Average case, look at what grades you’ll need to get in different subjects to get the points you want. It can help to have a graph of the different grades you attain in each subject as you work through different tests & exams over the year, to help keep you on track.
Your Career & the jobs of the future
So while you may not be ready to choose a career now, it’s important to start building towards finding some kind of employment, whether a part-time job to help pay your way through college or something longer term.
Most people’s careers don’t proceed in a straight line – they transition from one area to another via something else.
During your college years every assignment, research project, volunteering day, student union job ultimately helps prepare you for the world of work.
Chances are you may need to do some more menial jobs on your way up the career ladder, but getting a foot in the door can mean you quickly progress to something more challenging and rewarding. The connections you make with employers and clients during these seemingly unimportant roles can often open doors in unexpected ways later in your career.
The jobs of the future haven’t been invented yet – but the most important skills are unlikely to change, such as ability to communicate clearly, innovate & be creative, present ideas, think critically, plan ahead, get things done and work effectively with other people. The more you can build on these skills through your education and demonstrate these skills to a prospective employer, the quicker you’ll progress to employment and in whatever career or job you want to be in.
As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
So you don’t necessarily need to decide on your career right now; you just need to know about the first step !