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How do I know I'm picking the correct career path?

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Subject: Career question for you

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9 answers

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John’s Answer

Janet of course, there are some who know from a young age exactly what they want to do and then find fulfillment doing that thing for the rest of their lives. But it’s rare and unless you fall into that category, it can be unhelpful to approach your career with that same mindset. So, don’t get stuck at the starting blocks, waiting to have all the answers. Start taking steps forward, try things and pivot and change direction as needed. In other words, it’s easier to change direction and plot your path forward once you start moving. Many of us simply get stuck trying to think our way into the perfect career, the fear of making a mistake paralyses us into inaction. Early in our careers, we can have thoughts such as ‘I must choose the perfect degree or university because this is going to determine the rest of my life’ or ‘what if I don’t like doing XYZ, I’ll be stuck doing something I hate forever’.

The world of work is changing at a more rapid pace than at any time in history, with roles becoming obsolete and new roles emerging all the time. What’s more, the concept of loyalty to one company (and company loyalty to an individual) is becoming a notion of the past. Therefore, the old notion of identifying yourself in one area of interest and pursuing only this, now feels outdated. As individuals, we are always changing and the world around us is changing too, try different things and take advantage of the many possibilities that are out there. The world needs people who are flexible and adaptable, who pursue different passions and interests and who are uniquely able to combine all of their skills and experience to solve problems and find new solutions. Adaptability is important because as new technology evolves, companies established in the “old ways” may have difficulty competing with major players in their industry. Employers are looking for employees who can demonstrate strong adaptability skills and become company leaders. These skills are in demand and will help you get hired.

Janet those who can adapt to change are the next career leaders of the future.

Thank You Alessia. “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” — William Shakespeare John Frick

Thank You Pavan “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill John Frick

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Riley’s Answer

Ah, the question that every young professional has asked (and continues to ask) themself. I know I have! Thank you for starting such an important discussion, Janet.

Speaking from my own experience of having to explore what career path was right for me... here is an exercise that really helped me learn more about what I wanted: Linkedin Sleuthing!

Choose your favorite brand. Is it Starbucks? Is it Spotify? Is it PlayStation? Head over to Linkedin, search and click on that business' page, click on their "People" tab, in the small search bar under that tab search "marketing" or "accounting". You should see that company's employees start to filter! You can then click around and understand the ecosystem of their departments / job titles / career paths. You can even sleuth your way onto someone's profile with a job title you find interesting and see what experience they have that prepared them for the role! Very helpful, and a way to open the door to a possible informational interview.

Wishing you all the best on your career journey!

Riley recommends the following next steps:

Linkedin Sleuthing Exercise
Booked an Informational Interview
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Troy’s Answer

Picking your career is one of the biggest decisions you can make. I have seen a common theme when it comes to something you are passionate about. It's like they say 'If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life." And that rings true in so many things in your professional career. If you are excited about the industry and see growth (personally and professionally) than you are checking off two major boxes. In my professional journey, I constantly talked to people in other industries to determine what excites them about the work they are doing and are they happy? Money will come and go but happiness and passion are what will help you get through the ups and down in whatever career you choose.

At the end of the day, go with your gut. If you don't like it after a couple of years don't hesitate to make a change. It happens and it's better to refresh with a new career than be stuck with something that causes you stress or anxiety over the years. Be happy!
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Rebecca’s Answer

As long as you choose the career that you are interested at that time, it is always a correct decision. If you choose a career due to other reasons, e.g it can make more monies, easy job, etc. you may regret in the future.
Throughout your working life, you may change your interest or you discover you have strength in other areas. Then, you may change your career. It is very common. But, it does not mean you make a wrong choice at the beginning. Sometimes, the experience / skills you gain from the prior career, it can help you move to the next one.
So, you ask yourself what you really would like to do and be honest.
Hope this helps! Good Luck!
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Austin’s Answer

Are you doing things that interest you? Do you feel like you are making a difference in a way thats important to you? Is there room to learn new skills and try new things over time? Are you able to financially support yourself? If you can answer yes to those questions its a good sign you're on the right path
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Mia’s Answer

Be honest with yourself. People choose career paths for different reasons. It may be about pursuing your life long dream, following in someone's footsteps, or just plain old practical. Once decided, attend to it with passion, and reassess (after a year perhaps) to check if this is working for you or not. If the answer is "no", then don't be afraid to pursue something else.
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PAVAN’s Answer

My simple answer - if you get up on a Monday morning with excitement about what your work and all the learnings you are going to have, then I would say you are in the right career path. Money will eventually follow as you will excel owing to your passion. But to get there, you truly need to identify what your interests are and what you are passionate about. There will be a lot of experimentation along the way - I personally started off as a mechanical engineer, switched to construction technology and then finally pursued information sciences/analytics. Now I am a happy data analyst and very excited about how I am making impact with my work.
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Lilian’s Answer

There is a bigger chance to be successful when you do something you have a passion. Research about the career, talk with people that are doing and check with yourself if it is something you have a passion for and that you will be happy doing.

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Mickael’s Answer

Hi Janet,

Personally, I am going to say you do not know until you are walking the path. There are paths that you know won't be good for you, some you need to explore before realizing this is not the proper career path to you.
Many others gave you some hint about what are those obviously not good for you. The others, I think you cannot know until you experienced them for couple years. My personal experienced, I started as a software engineer. I grew to become team leader and my management also gave me the team manager hat. Well, at first I did not like it but keep doing it. After a year, I really decided manager was not for me. I did tried again 4 years later in another company in another country. Just in case the experience was different. I kept the position for 4 years and then really decided this was not the right path for me. I went back to being a developer and I am very happy this way.

I know others that started a career and realized this wasn't the career they wanted. One of my friend moved from computer architect to managing senior housing facility. And I believe he is very happy with the choice. He did enjoy his first job, just he didn't think he wanted to make it his career.

So to start your career find something you have interest in, that you are ready to do 8 hours a day, 5 days a week (at least). Once you are there for a year or two (depending how you like the situation) ask yourself how the next year or two should look like.

This is really a try and change, until you find what you are looking for. I wish you find it the first try but if not, there will be plenty opportunities to find better.