Choosing the right career is tricky; most people break out in a cold sweat when asked the question: ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ There’s a lot of external pressure to land a perfect job and be super successful before the end of your 20s. But in reality, very few people find a good career match with their first try and careers are often more about finding the next stepping stone rather than a direct route into the perfect job.
Here are some suggested steps and ideas to help you along the way:
What do you like? What are you good at?
A good place to start is to work out what you like to do and what you’re good at. Think about the skills you use when you’re doing the things you enjoy. Whilst many skills can be learned if you commit the time, pursuing a career that actively goes against your natural tendencies could be setting yourself up for a failure.
How to clarify things
What if you aren’t clear about what you’re good at or even what you’re interested in? You can access some helpful self-assessment tools and a career matching tool on our website to gain greater clarity about your personality type and other career drivers.
Research, research, research
Research the sector you’re interested in – find people who work within it and learn from them. Once you’ve worked out which specific jobs interest you, research the sector. You can find information about different employment sectors on our website. Take time to map out what you want and match your skills with skills actively sought within the areas of work that are of interest; this will involve a fair bit of research work, but it’s well worth it. Try to find out more by speaking to those already working in these areas – for example through our Meet an Alum events every Thursday evening during term-time. You can also use LinkedIn to connect with alumni working in sectors or doing roles that are of interest.
Evaluate your choice of sector and/or roles according to your perceptions and the information you’ve gathered. Assess and reflect on the research you’ve undertaken and don’t forget to include the type of lifestyle you would like when making your decision.
Network and get experience
Whilst you’re studying, take advantage of networking opportunities and chances to work in your career field either as a volunteer or in short-term or part-time paid positions. Look at upcoming events on CareerHub in sectors or with organisations/employers that are of interest, so you can speak to employees and find out more. These opportunities will give you the best possible feel for the work and the types of people you would work with and it’ll help you to identify any additional subjects or skills development that may be of use and could help to expand your horizons.
Try an internship
This can be a great way to test out an industry or type of career – and could even lead into a full-time job. Even if it doesn’t turn into a job or you find out it’s the wrong career for you, an internship can help build your network from which you can get career and job advice and support. You can find out more about internships on our website and search for roles on CareerHub.
As well as making a difference, volunteering is a great way to meet people, gain experience and learn more about different sectors and roles. LSE has a dedicated Volunteer Centre and there are lots of volunteering opportunities advertised on CareerHub. If you’d like some more direction, you can also book a one-to-one appointment with our Volunteer Centre Manager.
The most important thing is to be yourself and take a positive approach by making opportunities out of challenges!
If you would like to discuss your options or any careers-related topic, you can book a one-to-one appointment with one of our careers consultants on CareerHub!