5 ways to start thinking about careers

When even next month seems like a long way off, thinking about your future can feel impossible. But career planning isn’t about mapping out the next twenty years of your life. It’s just about making a start. Take a look at these easy ways to help get you thinking.

How to start career planning: the big picture

Few people decide their chosen career path overnight. Career decisions are usually a gradual process involving a whole host of factors and a big dollop of chance. There is no correct way to make a career plan. However, thinking about your career little and often will help you develop a general sense of direction.

1. Take note – tune in to what you like. How could that relate to the world of work? Notice what others do and what possibilities are out there.

2. Make a vision board – get out the glue and scissors (or go digital). Collect images which suggest some aspect of your future life – where you might live, what you might do, places you’d like to go, things you like or are important to you. Then start to look for themes or try focusing on one idea.

3. Try a careers quiz – there are lots of different careers quizzes out there you can do that might help you find out a little more about yourself and therefore what you might want to do in the future. You could try:

•The personality quiz and the interests quiz on Unifrog.org

•The Buzz Quiz on icould.com

•The Skillsometer below:

How to start career planning: the near future

It’s easy to get caught up with the day-to-day – the project you need to hand in or that event next weekend. But looking just that bit further ahead can make a positive difference. Having time on your side means you can change your approach or investigate your options in more detail.

4. Reflect – what have you enjoyed most about your work or studies over the past year? How can you build on this? Is anything holding you back? What can you do about it? Who can help you? If you’re struggling with one of your subjects for example, why not put in a bit of extra study or have a chat with your teacher?

5. Prepare – consult the calendar. Are there any major milestones coming up, perhaps exams or application deadlines? If there’s nothing fixed on the horizon, think about your next move in general terms. What can you do over the next few months to prepare?

6. Make time – explore one thing you’d like to do. Try freeing up a few minutes each day – or set aside a slightly longer block of time each week or month and make a start.

Career action plan: challenge

Write down three things – however small – you can do over the next three months to start exploring your career. Set yourself a reminder and see what you find.