What do you want? 5 helpful tips as you plan your career.

By: Yara Abdelsater, Career Peer Advisor
[Estimated read: 5 min.]

Are you a university student and still don't know if you picked the right program? Are you graduating soon and still don't know what you want to do next? Are you feeling stressed and anxious about the future because you still don't know what you want? Don't worry, you are not alone. Although you might feel like you are the only one going through this quarter-life crisis, I am here to tell you that there are more people than you think experiencing the same problem. In times like this, remember that deciding your career and your future is in itself very stressful, so try to stay calm and be confident that what you are feeling is only temporary!

Here are 5 helpful tips to help you discover what you want your career to look like.  

1. Know who you are  

When trying to decide what career path suits you best, you should first start by assessing yourself. This means that you should reflect on what your values are and what kind of personality you have. You can either do this by making a career assessment appointment with CDEL office or refer to the Strong Interest Inventory assessment offered by CDEL.  Furthermore, you should also take note of your strengths and weaknesses and what kind of skills you already possess. Finally, identify your interests and be aware of any external factors that could be influencing your choices. Perhaps you watched a movie about a pilot that greatly inspired you, or maybe your upbringing and childhood experiences play a big role in what interests you, or maybe a certain high school teacher made you fall in love with biology. External factors can have positive or negative effects, so it is important to recognize them and identify how they affect your career decisions.  

2. Look back to the past to see the future  

By now, you may already have some experience up your sleeve, whether that be through paid work, community service, extracurricular activities, or volunteering. Think about what you liked and disliked, what you were good at, and where you still need to improvement. Try to find the answers to important questions like “What was my best experience and why?”, “What was my biggest challenge and how did I overcome it?”, and “What experiences did I look forward to most?” All of this information is valuable and will give insight to a future career that matches your interests and skills.  

3. Seek more opportunities  

It is only through experience that you enhance your skills and acquire new ones. By seeking more opportunities, you get exposed to more industries, jobs, and occupations. This could potentially direct you toward a certain career path that you never knew existed or it could confirm that this is not what you want. Some ways you can gain more experience is by:  

  • Searching for jobs through company websites, online job boards (like Indeed), and mySuccess 
  • Volunteering within your field of study through the VIP-Community Service Learning program 
  • Searching for opportunities within your faculty and talking to your professors 
  • Getting involved in extracurricular activities such as joining a club or society on campus 

4. Do your research 

Although this sounds like even more homework on top of your coursework, researching different careers will go a long way in your career development. Using the knowledge you gained from assessing yourself, try to search for potential industries, companies and occupations that fit with what you like and what you want. Moreover, investigate the labour market to realize trends that can help you with your career planning, look for jobs that will be in demand in the future, and be aware of others that may become extinct as the world and society evolve.   

5. Talk about it!  

Lastly, there should be no shame in asking for advice or help when it comes to deciding your career. In fact, it is the smart decision to connect with professionals, family, friends, and professors, as these career conversations can give you insight into new perspectives and provide valuable lessons that will save you so much time. Most importantly, book an appointment through mySuccess with a Career Advisor in Career Development and Experiential Learning (CDEL) for more direction and guidance on your career journey!  

-- published January 24th 2023