You are wanting to know how to start your career. What are the first steps you should take? How do I keep track of all of this information? What if I decide I don’t like the route I initially thought I would?
It can feel overwhelming to define yourself in this world. You may be unsure of what you truly want to spend your life doing, and the thought of committing to something feels uncomfortable. You want to be the boss of your anxiety and take control of your perceptions.
However, it doesn’t have to be scary to envision yourself in your dream career, even if you feel you are not fully qualified to get there yet. It’s always good to take your time in making sure you are doing what’s best for you.
Start by narrowing down your career options – don’t choose more than 3. Only list ones you can genuinely see yourself doing and enjoying. Of course when we think of careers, we also want to think of salary and income as well. What are the current salaries varying on a few different locations?
It’s good to also narrow down into what particular fields you are interested in working in. This could look like working in a hospital setting, interacting with patients on a regular basis. Working in a financial setting, like a bank or accounting firm. Or, with animals, on a farm or as a veterinarian.
Do you want to spend your time helping people figure things out, such as working through mental health or physical health? Maybe you want to do less talking, more working, which can look like doing independent work as a virtual assistant or working in some field of technology.
There are so many different paths to take, and they can be very specific. This can be good if you are wanting to do something tailored just to you. Doing research is key to understanding the field and how to get to where you want to get.
Understand your passions and dreams
I know that in this day and age, it’s hard to imagine doing anything besides being in a high-paying position. The financial stressors of the world may obligate us to feel like we can’t pursue our passions and dreams. We may be studying to be an accountant when really, we want to be a gardener.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to go into a profession that is more rewarding and of value than something that would be financially rewarding. At the end of the day, we should be pursuing what truly makes us happy.
Consider your long term and short term goals and how you can use them to get to your passion. Maybe you are working at an undesirable job, but it compensates well and provides you with benefits. Consider what you can do to save up to support yourself if you are wanting to try out
Know yourself and what you do best. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What skills do you have that you continue to learn about, and what skills are you wanting to develop? This can look like being really good at providing customer service, but struggling to install boundaries in helping aggressive customers.
What if you and your friends came together one day to discuss your dreams? This would be a great opportunity to hear different perspectives and support each other! Topics such as passions and goals are always great ideas to be discussed.
You will feel more supported and listened if you include others in your anxiety surrounding finding a career. Your peers may relate to you more than you think.
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Research local opportunities
You can gain relevant experience to your career path by looking at local volunteer or job opportunities. This can look like volunteering at hospitals or reviewing job postings related to your field of interest.
Internships are a great way to get a front seat view into the career you are interested in joining. You’ll be able to interact with individuals who do this on a regular basis and understand the workload it takes in. Mentally and physically, you will get to see what goes on.
Volunteering at hospitals or local centers can look like supporting clients in waiting rooms, helping them with delivering food or showering, or providing support by simply being there. You can volunteer at soup kitchens or food drives to help facilitate operations.
Internships or volunteer opportunities usually last nine to twelve months, so choose something you can see yourself committing to.
Connect with individuals in those positions
Many individuals would be happy to spare some time for a brief meeting or phone call to review your goals and plan.
Websites such as LinkedIn can help you see people in the specific positions you are interested in joining. As LinkedIn is all about making business connections, you are more than likely to find someone willing to connect with you to share their story.
Make sure to ask politely for someone’s time to see if they would be open to hold a phone or Zoom call for you. You want to keep it brief, and not have them help you figure out your whole career. This is a good opportunity to hear a bit about their academic background and experience that led them to this point in their career.
Prepare for your consultation by bringing a few questions. Make sure to thank them for their time. If they are lagging in response to you, follow up kindly to inquire if they are still interested. If not, they may be too busy or uninterested, so do not take it personally.
You will find mentors out there – whether it be strangers, school counselors, therapists, family members, or friends!
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Research the certifications or requirements needed
It’s important that you are aware of what necessary prerequisite qualifications should be considered prior to looking into your career. These credentials could be related to CPR, suicide prevention and intervention training, x-ray technician qualifications, and more.
Some career paths may require you to have an Associates, Bachelors, or graduate degree to be considered for the role alongside necessary experience.
However, oftentimes we find ourselves applying to jobs that would give the perfect experience, yet require you to find it elsewhere.
Google different certifications that need to be done to get to where you want to be. To be a therapist, for example, you need to go to a graduate school program and enroll in a program designated to prepare you to be a marriage and family therapist.
Be careful when you look at broad degree options, and narrow it down to only specific and relevant options. For example, you could get a Master’s degree in Psychology, but that will not legally prepare you to be a marriage and family therapist.
However, if you get a Master’s degree in Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, your program will most likely meet your state’s licensing credentials.
A good idea to keep track of what’s needed could be to get a folder or spiral specifically for career goals. Title each page a different certification or requirement needed. Keep track of the timeline of each program, key features of the programs, locations, dates and times, and more.
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With time and patience, you can feel confident in your career plans. You have the ability to create a plan for yourself to work towards your goals.
When you try to rush into things, such as applying to multiple programs at once, you may cause more stress. Remember to believe in yourself and your abilities. Take your time in understanding yourself and your interests. Consider the pros and cons of your career choices.
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