Choosing a career path is a big decision, and it's not always the easiest. Don't panic, though. There are plenty of resources available for you to find the career that's right.
We asked career advice experts Chris Hounsell (Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) Career Development Centre) and
George Hurley (MUN's Counselling Centre) to share with us what they’ve learned while helping youth get their career plans on track. The good news? They both believe that this is a great time to start a career in Newfoundland and Labrador. There is renewed optimism and a real “can do” spirit in the young people they meet with. Right now, young people in this province have more opportunities than at any other time in our history. To gain some possible insight while thinking about your own career future, read their tips below.
DO follow your passions
Building your career means much more than just finding a job: it will play a huge role in your future happiness and sense of fulfillment. You might be tempted to pick a career because you think it’ll be easy to land a job in that field. Don’t. First of all, it’s almost impossible to predict long-term job opportunities and what careers will be ‘hot’ in the future. Second, you could find yourself years from now working a job that you dislike or that doesn’t provide satisfaction in your life. Follow your interests, be flexible in your career quest, and work on identifying what you’re really passionate about and discovering how to turn that passion into a profession.
DO try new things
This doesn’t just refer to exploring new career options. To make yourself attractive to future employers, get involved with a variety of activities, such as volunteering or joining clubs or organizations at school. If you go to university or college, realize your education means more than a diploma, degree or certificate, so get busy with some of the different activities on campus. You’ll get more out of life, and you’ll learn more about what you like and – maybe more importantly – what you don’t like.
DON'T underestimate your education
If you go to school to get a degree or some sort of certification, you might sometimes wonder what you can really do with that diploma. The answer is plenty. Many people end up working in different fields than originally intended because their education made them flexible and attractive to a variety of employers. The important thing is to be open to new opportunities and realize your education doesn’t have to limit you to only one path.
DON'T be afraid to ask for a little help
Career guidance is a way to get some practical, hands-on assistance with career questions or problems you might be having. Common areas that people can get real help with include:
- Résumé writing: How to make yourself look interesting to an employer starts with a well-prepared résumé. You’ll learn how to create the kind that lets you better promote what you have to offer.
- Practice job interviews: Learn common interview questions (and good answers), plus techniques to help you make a great in-person impression.
- Cover letters: Your cover letter is often how you first introduce yourself to a prospective employer, so learning how to write one effectively is very important.
- How to network: Learning how to meet with and connect with people is a crucial skill – not only for your career, but for life in general.
- Portfolio building: Some jobs require you to show them what you’ve done before they hire you. Get tips and insight on how to best display your work and win people over.
- How to assess your skills: You probably know more than you think. Skill assessment will help give you some insight into your real strengths.
DON'T be afraid to approach people for advice Career guidance can help you learn how to meet people in your chosen field and how to approach them for some insight.
It’s called informational interviewing: If you think you know what you’d really like to do as your career, contact some people in that field and ask them for a few minutes of their time. Ask them a few questions about how they got into that line of work. Be polite, listen intently, and take notes. And always, always send along a thank you note afterwards. If they work in a field you are truly passionate about, the odds are you will cross paths again in the future.
DO be ready for a little homework!
Career counselors can recommend many different books, tests and/or websites to help people figure out potential career options, here are three examples that can provide a great start:
The Strong Interest Inventory is a test that takes about 30 minutes to complete and helps give insight into what your real interests and passions are. Its results are analyzed by an expert and you’re given feedback on different career choices you might want to consider based on your answers.
What Color Is Your Parachute is the book recommended by our experts for learning more about the type of career a person would be best suited to. It encourages networking and establishing personal relationships as the path to getting the job you want. It also suggests taking some time to figure out what you are best at doing and what you most enjoy doing – which are often the same thing. The book features many exercises and activities designed to help the reader find their path, whether it’s landing that first ‘big’ job or changing careers later in life.
Resources available through the Department of Advanced Education and Skills:
There are a number of career planning tools and resources available through the Department of Advanced Education and Skills. The Department offers a series of online job search and career planning workshops to assist in your career and employment planning process. Labour market information resources are available to help you make informed career planning decisions. Employment Centres are located throughout the province if you wish speak with someone in person regarding career and employment needs. For further information, or to speak with someone via telephone, Labour Market & Career Information (LMCI) consultants are available to answer questions and provide advice on many topics, including: career planning, job search, training and education options at 1-800-563-6600.
Career Cruising is a website that features Canadian information on over 450 occupations, a career matchmaker quiz, portfolio and resume builders. It also provides assessment tools, detailed occupation profiles and comprehensive post-secondary education information to help you through your career exploration and planning.
DO dare to dream!
We don’t just mean about a dream job, although that’s healthy (and fun!). But, take the time to imagine yourself in the future: Where do you live? How are you dressed? What’s in your house? Are you in a city? Are you somewhere rural? How do you get around? When you wake up, what do you see? Questions like this will give you a sense of what your expectations are about your lifestyle, which is going to be a big consideration when you choose your career path. So dream big, but more importantly, dream honestly. And good luck!