This article was written by Spyra, a Carleton University student.
If you’re like me and started university without a clear career trajectory, I know it can be daunting to sort through all the possible paths you can take. With so many options, it can be difficult to figure what you’re passionate about. Here are some useful tips that have helped me answer this question.
Tip #1: To find your prince, identify your frogs
While the real world is not a Disney movie, this advice still stands. The easiest way to figure out what your interests are career-wise, is by figuring out what you dislike. Jobs, courses, or experiences that you didn’t enjoy weren’t wasted time, because they all enable you to construct a mental list of things you do enjoy doing. Through the process of elimination, a fulfilling job is one bad job away from your reach.
Tip #2: Go broad, not niche
If you’re unsure about your future career, you shouldn’t choose a program that is very prescribed and gives you very little wiggle room to explore your interests. The more interdisciplinary, the better, because it allows you to identify your strengths and interests, and on the flip side your dislikes.
I chose Public Affairs and Policy Management because of how interdisciplinary it is. I have gained experience taking a plethora of courses, ranging from economics to history to law to political science. This allowed me to identify what courses I dislike and in turn, what career paths are not for me. This degree enabled me to explore my interests without constraints. I would suggest those unsure of their career path to take the most interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree possible.
Tip #3: Get involved in extracurriculars
Getting involved in clubs and extracurriculars you’re interested in enables you to make connections with like-minded peers and to professionals with similar interests and ultimately career trajectories. Extracurriculars also typically have lighter commitment obligations for general members, which enables you to explore your interests with limited risk and time wasted.
Tip #4: Perfection is the enemy of good and other great expectations
Like everything in life, nothing will ever be perfect. When you’re aiming for an idealized dream job, every job will fail to live up to your expectations. Regardless of how great you are at the job or how good of a fit it is, there will always be tasks you don’t enjoy. I’ve found a more pragmatic approach to accessing fit is to weigh the positives and the negatives holistically, considering how your job fits into your life more broadly. If it is a net positive, then continue down your path, if not, try something new.
All these tips have one thing in common: putting yourself out there. The world is filled with experiences and possibilities at your disposal, the more you do, the more you will learn about yourself and grow as a person. Interests and knowledge do not exist in a vacuum, they come from experiences. So go on and make them, I’m excited to see what you achieve!
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