March 10, 2016

Career Advice for Students of All Ages

Sound career advice for students can be hard to come by. If you’re still at a crossroads deciding on your career path, you’re not alone.

It's a sobering reality that, when it comes to life and career advice, many of today's students are wandering about campus not knowing, with confidence, whether the course they have enrolled in is really the right fit for them and their future pursuits. If this sounds like you—have you decided what you are you going to do with a degree or qualification in your chosen course of study? If not, below might just be some of the most important career advice for students that'll change their life.

Career Advice for Students

With everything available out there already on the internet, we recognize that sound career advice for students can be hard to come by. If you're going to invest your precious time and money towards achieving a degree or some type of qualification, shouldn't you be absolutely certain about what exactly you will do with it?

If you are already absolutely certain, Great! However, if you're not, then, I hope you will read on because below, we share with you:
  1. Why professional fulfillment matters more than ever
  2. What we can learn about what the emerging generation thinks about careers
  3. Why it's important to know your personal values
  4. Why you should consider a career that fits with your personality
  5. What it means to be aware of new industries and emerging trends
  6. What you need to know from your potential employers perspective
Key career advice that I hope will help you make that absolutely certain decision so you are more confident about what to career path to pursue and how to get there.

Why You Need Proper Career Advice

It's truly astonishing to think about the number of students around the world turning up for class unsure if the path they are on, will take them to where they want to go.

While their choice of study may seem interesting at the time, it may not be in line with what will bring them personal fulfillment in the future. As students and young adults, it’s important to be properly informed about the career pursuits we plan to embark on.

Whether you are currently a student working your way through high school, college, or university. Or are about to enter the working world of employment, wherever in the world you might be, if you are still contemplating your career path, now is the time to be seriously considering your options.

All too often does someone, perhaps someone you know, walk out of an education program or course of study only to have spent years of their life, tens of thousands of dollars, and still be unsure of the career they want to pursue. Well, not you, and not today because we want to help you with that.

Reframing the Career Question

So, what's the problem? The problem is, society has framed the question incorrectly. The question being, “what type of career interests you?”, rather than framing the question as; “what type of career ignites your passion(s)?”
As a result, career change statistics, published by Careers Advice Online, suggest people will change their careers five to seven times over their lifetime.
Why this often? Sure there's a number of contributing factors, but one that stands out is we have been encouraged to focus on what jobs we think we want to work at, rather than focusing on what we want to achieve in our life or how our personal values factor into the equation.

Why Does Professional Fulfillment Matter?

In the blog post, 'Stuck, Bored, and Unfulfilled at Work' written by expert career advisor Katharine Brooks, Brooks suggests that people who find themselves in jobs they feel are unsatisfying are common to identify with feeling bored and that the work that they perform is pointless.

While money isn’t necessarily the only motivator, it may be the reason employees stay in their role longer than they should. Feeling dissatisfied and unfulfilled with your employment more often than not leads to complacency and a general sense of malaise that tends to carry over beyond the workplace into our daily lives.

You begin to dread going to work every morning, lose your motivation, and drive to grow. But guess what? When you feel this way about your workplace, your employer probably isn’t really enthusiastic to have you there either. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you take the time to consider what you want in life, your career choices will start to clearly take shape. The point here is to ask yourself; what type of career would ignite my passion every day?
Rather than focus on pursuing a professional career,
focus on pursuing professional fulfillment.

Wisdom From the Upcoming Generation

In 2015, during a junior achievement program presentation to a group of ninth grade students, the class were asked what they wanted to accomplish as adults.

What matters most to the emerging generation was surprising. For the majority of this group, what defines success is not a big salary or how much money they wish to acquire.

Instead, facilitators were pleasantly surprised to learn that these fourteen and fifteen-year-olds identified that, what means most to them is, not only that their work matters and means something to them but that they have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.

But they’re not the only ones. In the article, 'What Job Candidates Really Want: Meaningful Work', published by the Harvard Business Review studies on employee engagement suggests, it’s not stable careers and high salaries that validate success anymore.

While people may change jobs more frequently, ultimately, they are looking for work with increasing purpose. Work that creates meaningful career progression towards their own definition of success. Which begs the question, is your career goal linked entirely to obtaining a certain amount of income? Or, do you want to be defined by the substantial contributions your efforts produce?

Once you are clear about this, the next step to identifying a fulfilling career is to look at your own values.

Know Your Personal Values

Career progression is no longer only about ‘climbing the corporate ladder’. To the youth of today and the generation of the future, it’s about more than that.

It starts with knowing what matters most to you. And you may not even discover that until you’ve had the opportunity to move out of your parents’ home and experience the world on your own.

In the Business Insider article, 'Why You Can't Afford To Waste Your Twenties', written by Dr. Meg Jay, she states that young people can’t afford to waste their youth on a path that doesn’t fulfill them suggesting, for young adults, these are critical years of personal development and career progression.

So do your future self a favor, before you decide on a career, first consider your own personal values. Decide what matters most to you personally.

For example, is achievement important to you? Do you welcome new challenges? Are you open-minded? Do you embrace creativity, curiosity, and community? Are you results focused? Is being effective or becoming a leader important to you? What about work-life balance?

It’s important to know what you value personally so you can prioritize and narrow down a career path that aligns with your personal values and ignites you every day.

A Fit for Your Personality

When assessing your career options, consider what types of careers will offer the lifestyle you want with the work environment you work best in.

For example, do you prefer to operate in a social environment by interacting with coworkers, clients, and stakeholders daily? Or do you prefer to work in solitude to deliver on projects and tasks?

Are you at your best during the early hours of the morning or, do you fire up late at night? Whatever best suits you, the point here is to consider, what is the ideal work environment you need to be at your best every day.

New Industries and Emerging Trends

What we aspire to and what we believe we can become changes over time. Do you remember a time during kindergarten when the only three career choices seemed to be a doctor, a policeman, and a fireman? Then, by the time we reached high school, we came to recognize there is a world of career options beyond those three we identified when we started school.

Care to venture a guess to how many more new types of jobs we will discover once we’ve had the opportunity to pursue our interests?

The speed of technology and innovation is creating new jobs every day. Jobs that didn’t exist ten years ago, five years ago, or even yesterday. Your dream job may be in a career field that you hadn’t even considered or doesn't yet exist.

In fact, new industries and emerging markets are opening up so quickly that many jurisdictions haven’t even been able to classify the field of work.

So remember, choosing a career path is not only about what options are available to you now, but also what could be created in the foreseeable future.

From the Employer’s Seat

The very first step is knowing what career you want to pursue. The second is: how do you get employers, or recruiters for that matter, to help land you the job you know is a great fit for you? Here are a few tips. An employer, or recruiter, scanning through applications doesn't expect to see a few things. For instance, they don’t expect to see a wealth of experience relevant to the role on the resume of a candidate who has just graduated.

There are, however, certainly some key indicators you can provide. Indicators that should tell them they would be wise to make an investment in you.
  1. Firstly, if you find yourself in this situation, lacking years of experience to show on your resume, you can stand out by illustrating how your passion for the role has been woven into your past experiences. For example, any volunteer, education, and extracurricular activities you have been a part of and perhaps even taken a leadership role in.
  2. Secondly, for the recruiter or the potential employer, take advantage of the best opportunity possible. Paint for them a clear picture that demonstrates you've done your homework. Not only on the job posting and the organization but also on the field itself. If you have done your homework, you should be able to articulate what about that line of work appeals most to you.

Demonstrate Potential, Show the Right Attitude

Remember, employers' look for candidates who demonstrate the potential and right attitude. Candidates that are a good ‘fit’ for the role. And, candidates that would make a good ‘fit’ to the organization. This includes; the team or teams you will be working with, and the organizational culture. Employers and recruiters take an interest in candidates who can add value to the workplace and the bottom line. Find out what that is and use it to your advantage.

It’s common concern employers have when making the decision to hire a graduate to ask themselves; “how long can we expect to retain this person as part of our team?” and  “will we get a return on our investment by taking a chance on this person?” This makes it all the more important, that when you are given the chance, to make the most it!

See also: Need a Change of Life? 6 Signs Telling You, You're Ready.

The Choice is Yours

Have the courage to pursue your career that ignites your passion. Tackle your professional pursuits knowing what matters most to you, and what will make you feel most fulfilled. After that, the path that unfolds before you may very well lead you to destinations beyond your expectations.

Who knows? Maybe this generation, equipped with the knowledge to confidently pursue a career that best suits their values, may best make their impact felt as the generation that forever changed the transient career trend.

The career that ignites your passion is waiting for you, are you ready to reach out and take it? Just as the younger generation of today shared with us, pursue work that matters and means something to you. Ultimately, your success will be measured by what has the most personal meaning to you. It’s now up to you to find out, what does that look like?