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How Do I Define My Career Path?

Posted on Sep 13, 2019
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Define Career PathWhat do I want to be when I grow up? A question we always had an answer to in our childhood but may struggle with as we grow older. There are an infinite number of career options open to us today.  In addition to the conventional roles, there are a number of unconventional opportunities also knocking at your door.  What is the optimal path for you? Should you pursue commerce or engineering? Should you start your own business or work in a professional set-up? Is your skillset aligned with your dream career or do you need to work harder?

The first few years of your career lay a very important foundation. So much of your day is spent either at work or traveling back and forth, or thinking about it. Thus, if you are unhappy with your choices the repercussions can be detrimental. Working at the right job which excites you, challenges you, motivates you will provide you the appropriate framework to grow both personally and professionally.

So how can you take the right steps towards a fulfilling career?

1. Perform an Internal Evaluation. Before you even start exploring your options, it is necessary to take a step back and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Do an internal evaluation. Ask yourself questions to define your likes and passions. Also, try to identify if a certain opportunity matches with your skillset or not. Ask questions like:

  • Am I comfortable with excel or presenting ideas to a large group of people?
  • Does my personal situation allow me to travel extensively?
  • What kind of role will interest me the most?
  • Do I want a role that allows me to be creative? Or do I want to be writing and contemplating algorithms?
  • Where do I see myself in 5-10 years? What goals do I wish to achieve?

Think about what excites you, but also keep in mind things that you are proficient in.

2. Identify Appropriate Skill Sets: Any role and / or company have certain pre-requisites that need to be met for a position. These requirements evolve based on how you map your career trajectory, for example, the skills expected from an Analyst will be different to that of a Partner.  When defining your career path, take stock of both your academic and non-academic skills and how they match with your career aspirations.

3. Take a Career Test. Choosing your career path can be an intimidating experience, given the overwhelming number of choices available. To help you make that decision, career tests are designed such that you answer a series of questions based on your preferences, passions and interest and you receive a tailored profile that suggests areas of study or career that may be of interest of you.

4. Get an Internship. An internship could be a great way to test out an industry or type of career—and eventually get a full-time job. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be your dream job or you find out it’s the wrong career for you, an internship can help build your network, and help you realize your preferences and strengths. If you are unable to intern due to education or full-time work commitments – find other ways to expose yourself to your desired area or industry. For example: If you are looking to work in the social impact space, then the first volunteer with an NGO or if you are looking to start your own business, then be a consultant to a friend or family member’s business.

5. Do Your Homework. Even though you believe you have the required skills, aptitude, and interest for a certain career path, dig deeper. Research the careers that you are targeting, as each one has its own pros and cons. Talk to people who are already walking on the path that you are interested in.

6. Shadow People. We all have those seniors, family, friends, acquaintances, who are working in areas or industries that interest you. Tap into your networks to find people. Talk to them, ask them about their experiences, they will fill you with several do’s and don’ts which can be a great help to you.  Spend time at their place of work.  It is always good sense to learn from other people’s experiences and avoid making the same mistakes

Your career is not a sprint; it is a marathon. Deciding what to do is a time-consuming process and plans and ideas are never set in stone. So take your time in mapping your career path, be willing to take risks and try new things.

Need help identifying the right career options or track? ReachIvy can help!

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