Image: Erin Ho, Personal Photo
Everybody has a dream career. What’s yours? I know mine in high school was to be a marine biologist but obviously that didn’t work out. And it’s okay that it didn’t because during that tumultuous time of applying to university then experiencing first year, I was able to delve into a new field of interest: communications and design.
No lie, it would’ve been rad studying sea temperatures and tracking salmon migrations. But, I would much rather choose to design and write over that. These two fields drive me to learn and hone in on the skills I want to learn and need for my future career. Such as designing cool, unique graphics in Adobe’s Illustrator and writing blog posts to create valuable and useful content (the age of content is taking over, people). I don’t have a specific job title in mind and I’m still in second year, so I’m taking my time to develop the skills I’m interested in while figuring things out.
If you have a specific career in mind, that’s great! If not, that’s okay too.
Completing your undergrad takes four long years, but those four years fly by quickly. It’s important to make use of your time and journey to figure where the next harbor is to sail. Here’s five ways to help you figure out what you want to do after university.
1. Document your Growth.
“Progress is progress, no matter how small.” -Unknown
Image: Erin Ho, Personal Photo
To figure out what career you want, I think it’s important to document your growth and progress of your journey in university through whatever medium you feel comfortable with. This allows you to look back and piece together your journey and what you really enjoy doing. For me, that’s writing in a journal and taking pictures for Instagram. I like writing about my thoughts in order to make sense of them and creating content such as posting pictures on Instagram that reflect my aesthetic and life right now. These skills can lead to working as a social media content creator. Look at what you naturally gravitate towards and find where your strengths lie. Those usually reflect what things you enjoy and value, indicating what kinds of tasks your future career should entail.
2. Figure Out What Kind of Lifestyle You Want to Live.
Do you want that 9 to 5 life or set-your-own schedule kinda life?
Image: Erin Ho, Personal Photo
Don’t just envision what kind of job you want after graduation but what kind of lifestyle you want. This drives you to figure out what you value in your life and in your routine. Often times, we make our lives work around our jobs. Draining copious amounts of time and energy from ourselves. When really, your job should work around your life. I know you’re probably thinking, shouldn’t it be “I work to live, and live to work”? Sounds pretty depressing, doesn’t it? That kind of thinking leads you to become overworked, stressed, and severely drained. But when you choose to figure out which values are important to you like having time to spend with your family and friends, being able to work with a community, or even being your own boss, these values will drive what kind of job you want and will find, giving you a stronger sense of purpose and security in that career.
3. Explore and Make Connections.
Engage in discussion and see what each person can learn from another.
Image: Unsplash, Pexels
You can definitely learn a lot from others. That can be through talking to individuals in a field you’re interested in, watching a TED talk on a topic you’ve been meaning to delve into, or even just going to workshops and conferences to learn and discover. By doing these things, you’re exploring interests relevant to you and gaining a bigger picture of what your interested field would entail and require of you.
I’m a student member with RGD (Association of Registered Graphic Designers) and recently got the chance to attend the 2016 DesignThinker’s Conference. It was a very humbling and incredible experience to learn from the great minds pushing boundaries daily in the design field and hearing their reflections on their lengthy design career. Plus, it was great to get lots of resources for free such as magazines, pamphlets, and posters which leads me to my next point.
Find a comfy spot and read.
Image: Tranmautritam, Pexels
Reading helps you grow and think. But it doesn’t have to be a book. You could read a blog, article, magazine, or even a picture book. The main point is to read. Read about design, microbiology, technology, architecture, camel riding, literally anything that is interesting and relevant to you. Expand your mind by delving yourself into the words and knowledge of others. This will lead you to discover fresh new ideas bringing you to develop new skills and knowledge that can be applied to school or work.
LinkedIn-like Facebook but for professionals.
Image: LinkedIn, LinkedIn Brand Resources
If you don’t know what LinkedIn is, it’s like Facebook but for working people to get connected-a networking tool for professionals. Having a LinkedIn account allows you to keep your resume and connections up to date. It’s also a great way to explore other people’s LinkedIn accounts who share a similar education as you and see where they ended up for graduation. You can find jobs you’ve never heard of before that interest you and can lead to tailoring and strengthening your resume and experiences.
By looking at other strong, relevant LinkedIn accounts, you learn how to:
- set up a strong LinkedIn account with a powerful headline to garner interest
- find and use keywords relevant to what industries you want to work in
- organize your information in a concise and impactful way
For more tips on how to create a stronger LinkedIn profile, click here.
By setting up a strong LinkedIn profile and communicating what jobs you’re interested in, will increase your chances at getting the job you want and can lead to other great opportunities.
It’s scary to think about what the future holds and whether you’ll be okay and do well financially. But stop and look at where you are now.
You’re in university pursuing a degree that will reflect the knowledge, skills, experiences, hard work, and commitment you’ve gained and demonstrated as an individual. You’ve developed new friendships that have grown to become your support system, study buddies, and potential life long friends. You’ve also become a capable, independent, stronger, and wiser individual. Be proud of yourself, even I’m proud of you!
So whether you’re in first or fourth year, you’ll find your way to your future career through documenting your growth, figuring out what kind of lifestyle you want, exploring and making connections, reading, and using LinkedIn!
This university journey is one that is filled with high and lows but soon you’ll complete the journey and sail off to a new port with more skills, lessons, and experiences to gain!