One of the main reasons is that we have a very limited knowledge of careers – there are thousands of careers out there that most of us have never heard of. The problem is that we don’t get a lot of careers education at school or college and it tends to be very focussed on what we are studying or an area we’ve expressed an interest in. That’s fine for some people – the ones who are born knowing what they want to do and never waver, but they are in the minority and you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you were one of them.

So it is very easy to fall into the trap of doing what is expected of you, by parents, teachers and friends. They can be very well-meaning, but can only tell you about the careers they know something about. Kids generally know about the careers of family members, friends and people they come across whether through reading, TV or meeting people. What would happen if they had more access to new and really different careers? And how would you as an adult make career choices if you were aware of more of the careers out there? Luckily, we have access to the internet and the possibility to learn about any career we think might be interesting, but where do you start?

A great place to start is with what you enjoy. This could be from any area of life. Let’s start with work-related stuff – are there skills and actvities you enjoyed using in past jobs or during your student days?  Write them down. Now think about hobbies and any spare-time activities you’ve had fun with over the course of your life. These could be associated with volunteering, a gap year, things you do with family or friends. In fact, anything else you can think of. Add these to your list.

The next step is to research careers related to your interests, so for example you might look for careers or jobs using languages, writing, art. Or careers involving travel, sports, working with children, animals etc. Remember to look beyond the obvious – there are likely to be several well-known careers related to any search, but there will be more “behind the scenes”. So be sure to dig a little deeper. When you find a job that sounds interesting – something you might consider doing – get as much information as you can – what’s involved, how can you train, what are the prospects? More ideas coming soon.