(This post is part of Career Tips blog series)
Most things during our school days are fixed and arranged for us, we follow the same education system and go through same set of subjects to study, daily schedule, curriculum activities, and etc. Only a small percentage of us would choose different systems (for example, study at home only). After we religiously follow through the system for many years, suddenly by the time we graduate from schools, we have no idea how to arrange and choose (career) for ourselves. Not everybody, but certainly a big chunk of us.
This post is not about criticizing the education system. While we are all swamped by opinions and pressure from parents, teachers and friends, who should we listen to and how do we pick the best career for us?
1. List down all the things we love to do (passions)
Take a blank sheet of paper and write down all the things you love doing, it can be anything from travelling, cooking, conducting chemical experiments, researching about galaxy, to interior design, programming etc.
2. List down all the things we are good at doing (skills)
This list may not be the same as above. There are things that you are great at doing, but not necessarily enjoying them; write those down.
3. Filter out the common things in these two lists
Is there anything that you are good at doing, and you absolutely love doing that? If there is none, pick top 3 from the list of skills. Why? Because passion is overrated.
4. List down our priorities
Financial stability? Personal growth? Family? Career advancement? Industry exposure? Contribution to the community? List them down and rank them. Note that our priorities could change over time, what we prioritize now and future might be very different.
5. Brainstorm for career options
Write down all the possible options based on list #3 above. Good and love programming? Write developer, software architect, IT support, freelancer. Great at project management? Startup own company, project manager, business administrative. Look at the options for their future too, you might not want to pick something that could be replaced by technology or become too competitive in a few years’ time.
6. Filter career options based on priorities
Filter top 3 from list #5. Let’s say you are great at project management and your priority is financial stability, perhaps you might choose to be a project manager over startup own company. Why top 3? Because if most desirable option fails, well you have plan 2 and 3 then. Voila! Here comes your best career path for now! Always have 3 plans – the best option, the second best choice, and the worst case scenario.
At the end of the day, we got to feed ourselves. Can those options be monetized and are sustainable? We can either work for someone or be our own boss; but if you are pretty fresh, suggest to work for others to gain some practical experience, industry insights and network first. Also, this exercise should be reviewed periodically (eg., every 2 years); our passions could change; our skillsets could be enhanced; career future might be different due to market conditions etc. Remember? The only constant is change.