Planning the Path to Your Dream Job

A doctor. An astronaut. A lawyer.

When asked, every kid has some dream of what they want to be when they grow up. Over time, for many, those dreams evolve. Some kids realize they hate the sight of blood. Others discover they prefer their feet on solid ground, or they don't enjoy confrontation as much as they thought.

By the time you get to high school, you may be considering a different career path from the one you scribbled in your notebooks as a kid. But how do you actually get there?

Landing your dream job

Thinking about the future often means getting into a reverse mindset. To achieve any goal in life you usually need to think about the steps leading up to it. And for many careers, figuring out those steps means working backwards from the end goal to determine a path.

Ask yourself a few questions

First off, it's important to take some time to reflect on the field you're interested in.

  • What do you know about the field? What attracted you to it in the first place?
  • Do you know anyone in the industry?
  • Does this type of career align with the lifestyle you want?

A great way to explore any career option is to reach out to someone you know who has experience in the field. Listening to their stories about their journey and the obstacles they faced along the way could provide helpful insight into whether it's the right path for you. And as a bonus, those conversations may even open your eyes to careers you hadn't previously considered.

If you don't know someone in the field you're interested in, here are some other tips that will help you find your way!

Do your homework

Once you're ready to commit, it's time to start thinking ahead — by putting things in reverse. Do some research to determine what qualifications you need to reach your end goal.

You might need professional training at college or university. Or there could be other requirements, like time spent working in the field, a strong set of experiences on your resumé, or even another degree.

This is where you can kick your research into high gear. A simple Google search is a great place to begin. Try searching "how to become a psychiatrist" (inserting your own career of choice) for starters. It can also be useful to ask your school's guidance counsellor or a career advisor at a university.

In many cases, if you're looking at a career that requires certification or a professional designation (like an accountant or pharmacist), you also need to look into geographic restrictions. Will your certification be valid for where you plan to live after graduation?

Consider your university career

If your career of choice requires a specific Master's degree, what undergraduate programs would best prepare you for that degree? What are the admission requirements for those programs? Is specific experience required? These are all helpful questions to ask when choosing a university program.

And what if, after all that research, you discover that there's no specific route you need to take to reach the career of your dreams? Well, congratulations — you just got some great research experience that will prepare you well for university!

There's rarely a clear-cut route to any career, and if you talk to professionals who work in the field, it's highly likely they've all arrived there through different paths. Ultimately, your unique interests and experiences are the tools that will lead you to success — and getting a strong education along the way won't hurt.

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