Choosing a career pathway

Choosing a career pathway is a pretty big deal. With so much choice on offer these days, the whole thing can feel a bit overwhelming. Learn about what a career pathway consists of, some of the worries we have thinking about it, great ways to figure it all out, and what to do if you’re still unsure.

This might help if:

  • You’re looking to start a career pathway
  • You’re worried that you’ll make the wrong career choice
  • You want to know ways that can help you choose the right career pathway
Girl and guy sitting on couch with artwork behind them

Fears and careers

When someone asks, ‘what do you want to do in life?’ it’s normal to think about the answer in terms of what career you might want to pursue. For some of us, this question can freak us out a bit. For others, it’s a little easier. Either way, careers play a big role in our lives, and the idea of choosing one can be pretty daunting. You might be worried that:

  • You’re not going to enjoy it
  • You’ll never find something you want to do
  • You won’t be any good at it
  • You won’t earn enough money
  • You’ll be stuck there forever.

Even if you end up not liking your choice, it’s no biggie. There are heaps of things you can do that will help you figure it all out. These days, people switch careers once, or even twice or three times in their lifetime!

So, how to figure it all out?

When we’re trying to figure out what it is we want to do in life, there are some interesting questions we can ask ourselves, like:

  • What do I enjoy? Think about what you really love doing. If you’re an animal fanatic, maybe being a vet is your calling?  You’re obsessed with food - why not give being a chef a go? Make a list of all the things you enjoy and try and match them up with possible career choices. 

  • What am I good at? Are you a great communicator, good with your hands, a whiz at solving problems, or a creative person? Identifying your skills and qualities will go a long way in helping you realise a career pathway. 

  • Think outside the box. There are millions of jobs you probably don’t even know exist, like food a scientist specializing in ice-cream flavouring. No jokes, that’s a real job.

  • What lifestyle appeals to me? Would you prefer an indoor or outdoor working environment? Travelling around or staying put? It’s handy to think about how working will fit into your lifestyle and make you happy.

  • Do I need to study? Figure out what you need to study to achieve your goals, then go for it. TAFE? Uni? Design School? The options are endless.

Some great ways to help you put these questions into action are to:

  • Chat to someone: A lot of the time we’re our own worst critic. Get a second opinion from someone you trust, like a friend and family member, and find out what they think you’re awesome at. For professional guidance, take all your questions to a careers advisor at school or Uni. They can lay all your options on the table, including ones you may not have even dreamed of. 

  • Map it out: Go to town on a mind map, jotting down all the types of jobs you might be interested in, even if they seem a bit far off. Put it out of sight and have another peek at it in a week’s time. Are there any that stick out?

  • Do some work experience: Volunteer or intern with companies or organisations you like the look of. It’s one of the best ways to get a taste of what to expect in an industry. If you find that it’s not for you, you can simply cross it off the list. Done.

  • Imagine you’re offered every job in the whole world. What job would you pick? Start from there and work backwards to something you feel you can achieve.

It ain’t easy

Falling into a job that we love straight away isn’t always going to happen. It takes time, persistence, and hard work. In the meantime, any experience is good experience. If you have absolutely no idea where to start, just choose anything - that way you'll at least start learning about the kinds of things you do and don’t like in a job, and you’ll also learn valuable skills about what it’s like being employed. The good thing is, in this day and age, it’s not a big deal to shift careers. You can always change to something else down the track. 

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 25 August, 2015
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