Five Creative Ways to Find Your Career Path
- Student Tips
Finding your footing in the job market can be hard, especially in the beginning. Not all of us can pull a sword from a stone and have a clear vision of our path. In fact, most of us can't.
Struggling a bit to find your footing in your career path? Don't know what you want to be when you grow up? It's ok. You're not alone. Finding a career path is daunting, but it doesn't have to paralyze you. Here are five creative ways to help you figure out your calling, at least professionally.
1. Use myths and legends
Think back to grammar school and you will probably remember studying the great myths and legends. They are timeless. Why? The stories all have universal truths, lessons, and themes about what it means to be human, how to overcome personal barriers, make changes, and get help.
Your career path is a personal one. Myths and stories can help you figure out what's important to you.
In fact, in New Zealand, Claire Stirling-Hawkins, of Ngāti Porou and Te Whānau-ā-Apanui descent, has used Māori myths in her career counseling.
On the careers site of the New Zealand government, she says, "Mythology is such a fantastic resource that has its own beauty and richness in terms of the messages found within. It is also a natural part of the way in which I work that others find fascinating. I didn't realize it would have such an impact on people."
She adds, "Myths open the door to a culture but you must be prepared to embrace the culture, not just take the story." Stirling-Hawkings also points out these universal truths can be found in pop culture as well as traditional stories and legends, even -- or especially -- those aimed at children.
Why? Because one of the most common life themes found in myths and stories is a big one: self-belief.
2. Reach out to someone random in your network
If reading your way to a career doesn't get you there, expand your network. If you are on LinkedIn, that's a good place to start. Why? Run through your contacts. See whose job or whose company interests you. Send them an email for a LinkedIn message and ask to chat about career choices. You will gain confidence, insight, and maybe even a new friend in the process.
If you don't have LinkedIn, expand your in-person network by attending conferences and events, and start showing up for local community events that interest you. Check out sites like meetup.com to find like-minded groups and activities in your area. You never know who you may meet!
3. Take a career personality test
Not sure where to begin at all? Try a career personality test. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the most popular. It delves into your key motivators, your personality type, and the type of jobs that you're likely to enjoy.
Typically, the Myers-Briggs test costs money, though some free versions can still give you a pretty in-depth analysis of your personality type. There are lots of other free career tests online that can give you more insight. See if any of them spark an idea on what you want to do!
4. Write a decision diary
A diary, a journal, a list...it doesn't matter. Keep a notebook -- physical or virtual -- of images, articles, and the contact information for people who interest you. You will start noticing trends in the kinds of people and the kinds of stories that draw you in.
How can you harness that energy into a career? What sparks your interest? That's the direction to take your career in!
You don't necessarily need to go far. Start by being a tourist in your hometown. Switch up your routine. Eat in a new restaurant. Stop at a place where you've never stopped. Wander the back roads.
If that doesn't work, leave town. Travel to the nearest city, take a wander and think.
If you can, go someplace completely new, somewhere you've never been before, and stay for a while. Taking yourself out of your comfort zone is the first step to gaining perspective.
The goal? Clear your mind a little, think outside your norms, and see what piques your interest. Come back from wherever you go refreshed, with new perspectives and new ideas, including, maybe, what you want to do for a career.
Choosing a career is tough. Remember: your next job doesn't have to be your dream job. It just has to be a step, possibly a small one, in the right direction...
Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.