Student Ambassador, Michelle Chingono, walks you through steps she took whilst studying at LSE, and challenges you with four questions that can help you to discover your ideal career.
As you progress into your studies, you might start to wonder how to discover or begin to secure your “dream” career.
It can be hard to untangle what this is, and the pressure can feel intense if most of your cohort, friends and even your housemates studying different programmes have a robust career plan, with interviews and assessment centres lined up before the end of term.
The truth is, you’re a student with a lot of learning and exploring to do – and it’s ok to not know what your ideal or dream career is so early in the process.
While there is no one formula to determine how to find the dream career, there are ways to help you get closer to it.
This blog post walks you through some steps I took whilst studying at LSE and challenges you with four questions that can help you get on the right path to discovering your ideal career.
…you’re a student with a lot of learning and exploring to do…it’s ok to not know what your ideal or dream career is so early in the process.
Ask yourself four questions
The challenge is to develop the right mind-set and narrow down your options by asking yourself four key questions.
1. What are my strengths and weaknesses?
If you can’t answer this question, a great start is to list them according to the main competencies most companies look for. For example:
- Do you have good examples to demonstrate that you are a strong communicator?
- Are you a good leader that makes a valuable contribution by coordinating, motivating and leading a successful team?
We all have different strengths and it’s important to know yourself and your capabilities, as you can leverage these and improve your weaknesses to push yourself further when the career opportunities come.
2. What are my top five values?
Your values are what’s important to the way you live and work daily. Taking them into account when choosing your ideal career will help you to determine whether it’s the right path for you. They map out your priorities, inform the decisions you make, and add to what makes you look forward to going to work every day.
Some examples include:
- Work-life balance.
- Progression opportunities.
- High rewards.
- Project management opportunities.
- Travel opportunities.
3. What’s my personal brand?
Having a personal brand is a must when you’re looking for professional opportunities. This is your way of showing employers or colleagues what it is that’s so unique about you and sets you apart from other candidates and meets the needs of the organisation.
If you have more than one passion and area of interest like me, you need to check out LSE Career’s tips on developing a personal brand.
Once you have, test how strong your personal brand is in a 30-second elevator pitch (an equivalent of the popular “Tell me about yourself” question) with family members or friends!
This will prepare you to take advantage when opportunities arrive unexpectedly. In my case, the opportunity came when I found myself in an elevator with the Managing Director of a firm of interest.
Opportunities will present themselves, whether it’s at a conference, the lobby, in a lift, a queue for coffee, or on your commute home!
…opportunities arrive unexpectedly… I found myself in an elevator with the Managing Director of a firm of interest.
4. Am I currently or do I plan to try new things out of my comfort zone?
The truth is, that you’ll never know your strengths, weaknesses, top values, or personal brand until you’ve been tested.
As you progress into your studies at LSE, as I found, you become open to more opportunities that you thought were not possible – including those out of your comfort zone where you overcome your limits or fears. For example, public speaking as a departmental student ambassador. Only then will you realise and develop all the above when you step out of your comfort zone.
If you are unsure of where to start, a good start is to check out LSE’s Volunteer Centre!
As you progress into your studies at LSE… you become open to more opportunities that you thought were not possible…
To summarise, don’t feel discouraged if you’ve changed your career plans a million times or if you don’t know what your ideal career is and are stuck on what to do. It’s normal and it’s a good reason to make sure you start taking the necessary steps now whilst studying at LSE.
If you struggled to answer some of these questions, our LSE Careers team have the best and most readily available resources that you can access, like this post on a Career Change.
Book an appointment with our LSE Careers consultants for good advice, which will help you get on the right path, and what you want in your future ideal or dream career.
Learn more about our MSc Economics and Management programme