Making career decisions can be nerve racking.  Often students are afraid that they will make the ‘wrong’ decision and end up in a career that will make them unhappy.  We are all individuals, and career decisions we make have to suit our individual personalities, interests, values and skills.  Once you have an understanding of who you are, you can better figure out careers that are a good fit for you.  Just like you do research for classes, it is important that you research careers.

I came across an interesting career planning article in the Harvard Business Review, titled ‘Build a career worth having’ by Nathaniel Koloc.  Nathaniel recommends to treat your career like a grand experiment because the reality is that your career is not just a way to earn a living, it’s your chance to discover what you’re here for and what you love.  You can contribute to improving the world in a way that is important to you.  Says that it should be an adventure, with a healthy bit of magic and mystery along the way, the advice is:

  1. See your career as a series of stepping stones, not a linear trajectory.

Most people end up with a career path of somewhat arbitrary events that, at best, is a gradually improving wandering path, and, at worst, is just a series of unfulfilling jobs.  Let go of the idea that careers are linear. These days, they are much more like a field of stepping stones that extends in all directions. Each stone is a job or project that is available to you, and you can move in any direction that you like. The trick is simply to move to stones that take you closer and closer to what is meaningful to you. There is no single path — but rather, an infinite number of options that will lead to the sweet spot of fulfillment.

  1. Seek legacy, mastery, and freedom — in that order.

Researchers shows that there are three primary attributes of fulfilling work:

  • Legacy. A higher purpose, a mission, a cause. This means knowing that in some way — large or small — the world will be a better place after you’ve done your work.
  • Mastery. This refers to the art of getting better and better at skills and talents that you enjoy using, to the extent that they become intertwined with your identity. Picture a Jedi, or a Samurai, or a master blacksmith.
  • Freedom. The ability to choose who you work with, what projects you work on, where and when you work each day, and getting paid enough to responsibly support the lifestyle that you want.
  1. Treat your career like a ‘grand’ experiment.

People who are successful in finding and maintaining meaningful work approach their careers like a grand experiment.  All of the things you think you know about what you want to be doing, what you’re good at, what people want to hire you to do (and at what salary), how different organizations operate, etc. are hypotheses that can be validated or invalidated with evidence — either from the first-hand experience of trying something (including bite-sized projects), or second-hand from asking the right questions of the right people.

By doing your homework on what’s actually a good fit for you, you won’t waste your time applying to jobs that you aren’t competitive for.

Read the full article here.


Confused, not sure where to start?

Contact Careers and Employment on 463 5393, for a personal appointment with a Careers Consultant.