How to pick the best career for you
We’ve all met that person who has known what they wanted to do for a living since day dot. These people never fail to note, with painstaking certainty, that they were born to be the next leading brain surgeon, high-end property developer, or a foreign correspondent for war-torn nations.
Before you scold yourself for not sharing their passion, we’ll let you in on a secret - it is actually extremely uncommon for students to graduate knowing exactly what they want to do in life.
This isn't a bad thing. We will – and should – continue to change as we grow. For most, this is a decision that takes a lot of research, self-reflection, and trial and error. UNSW alumnus and Campus Consultancy founder, Josh Farr, has worked with thousands of students to help them determine the best career path for them.
Below, Josh shares five tips for determining what career is right for you:
1. Start with self-discovery
“We aren't taught to do a deep dive into our own motivations, psychology, values or philosophies, but without a better understanding of who we are and what we believe in, it's hard for anyone to know which career path would be most satisfying,” says Josh.
“My advice is to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Get experience working with people from different backgrounds to figure out what sort of environment you like to be in and how you contribute best to teams.”
2. Let your interests guide you
This seems common sense, but exactly how to do this is another matter. While reality dictates not everyone can become a professional panda hugger, we can find ways to utilise our passion to determine a new, more suitable path.
“I often recommend students check out 80000hours.org. This takes into account what you're interested in and what sort of work you might find satisfying,” says Josh. I also recommend the Ikigai framework, which finds the intersection of what you love, what you're good at, what you believe in and what you can be paid to do.”
3. Be honest with yourself
“For your own emotional wellbeing, it's important to be honest about what you want to do, as opposed to what you think you should do. If a certain company or type of work is not challenging, exciting or fulfilling, there are many more options out there,” Josh explains.
“In my first role as an engineer, I wasn’t satisfied. I was good at it and I believed in it - the world needs engineers. But I didn't love the work.”
4. Reach out to someone in the know
Rather than stumble in the dark and guess, Josh recommends getting on LinkedIn, tracking down individuals who are currently working in the job, company or industry that they're interested in, and reaching out to see if they can visit the office, speak on the phone or meet over coffee.
“If the person is happy to speak with you, this is a great a way to get to know the colleagues, managers and workplace before starting,” says Josh. “After hearing about your strengths and interests, this person might suggest you're a better fit for a different role, department or business - and that advice might save you a year of frustration in work you don’t feel a connection to.”
5. Prepare for lifelong discovery
While we should always strive for happiness and fulfilment with our work, Josh says it’s quite normal – and encouraged – that we wrestle with these concerns for the rest of our lives.
“Questions around feeling good enough, wanting to feel that your work matters, and that you are living your best life are perennial,” says Josh. “They exist for everyone, and probably will never go away. Rather than overcoming them, it is better to accept them as essential parts of our own ongoing personal development.”
Josh Farr (BEng ’13) is the Founder of Campus Consultancy, which provide leadership training for clubs and societies across 12 Australian universities. In his work, Josh trains students and young graduates to become emotionally intelligent leaders, instilling the belief that 'leadership is service,' while developing strategies for effective goal-setting, relationship-building, while gaining a better understanding of who they are as individuals and how they want to contribute to the world.