Photo by Ben White
Originally Posted On: https://www.discoverybit.com/7477/preparing-career-path/
Are you a student or a young person seeking advice on your career path to success, so as to achieve a financially stable future? Well, you are not alone as many of us growing up were not always guided on what it actually takes to achieve financial success.
And knowing how to best prepare can be overwhelming, especially given much of the content on social media. Platforms like TikTok and Instagram show influencers who make being a successful entrepreneur sound as easy as 123. But the truth is that creating financial success isn’t as easy as double-tapping or downloading an app.
Having taken the first few steps into adulthood, most young people now realize that even the simple things like keeping up with car insurance for an UberEats driver aren’t precisely paving the road to riches.
However, despite the daunting career path ahead, there are certain things you need to take into consideration when learning how to prepare for a successful career.
Define What Success Means to You
We all need money, which is a given fact of life. But there are no automatic limitations on how to get it. The medical or law fields are full of careers that almost guarantee a large salary, but a big check won’t ensure your livelihood if you hate what you do.
Try to detach from the images of success that come up on your Google search or social media feed. The definition of success for you may not mean having a high-paying job. Begin with what you like to do, then dig deeper to see how you can put your passion into practice.
If becoming a doctor or lawyer is your dream career, that is wonderful, but your dream job should be rooted in what you love and planned for reality. And one blessing of living in the digital age is that you can make a living from a plethora of options with a little creativity and a lot of hard work.
How to Find Your Passion
Knowing what you’re passionate about doesn’t always come naturally. Don’t feel discouraged if you aren’t yet sure what your passion is or what career path you should take. Instead of trying to find a label, though, start by asking yourself a few questions:
a) What do you do in your spare time?
b) What do you often think about?
c) Where was your favorite vacation?
d) Where do you dream of going?
e) Who are your favorite famous figures?
f) What are the top three things that you value?
g) Do you work best with groups or by yourself?
h) What are your best characteristics?
i) How do you want to help the world?
j) What do you believe you can achieve?
Be honest when you ask yourself these questions because they will help you open your mind to what profession/career path is right for you. Over time, the answers to these questions may change, and that’s okay, too. You don’t have to have just one passion your whole life.
How to Prepare for a Successful Career
Once you figure out what you want to do, finding the starting line could be just as complicated as deciding on the race.
You may be ready to jump into the physical steps like finding the perfect internship, but learning the importance of personal development is key to creating a solid professional foundation.
Always Work to Improve Yourself
Emotional outbursts are not professional, but knowing how to manage and communicate emotions is.
Personal growth is a foundational step in growing your professional career. Work is frustrating, and dealing with others can be trying, which makes the ability to center yourself an essential professional skill.
Whether you’re looking to operate your own business or work in a corporate setting, here is a list of self-awareness categories that will enhance your professional ability:
a) Learn to communicate well: Figure out how to express yourself in times of heightened emotional states. Proper ways to communicate include expressing yourself clearly and actively listening to others.
b) Identify your triggers: We all have things that set us off, make us disconnect, or make us cry. Process where your triggers come from, and you will find that conducting yourself professionally becomes easier.
c) Practice setting goals: In any career path, you have to be a go-getter. If you’re waiting for someone to tell you what to achieve, you’ll never progress. Goal-setting is a practice that can transcend every aspect of your life in a positive way.
d) Live on a budget: Understanding money flow is an integral part of life and every business. Sticking to a budget requires strategy, management, and impulse control, all of which make a strong professional. Doing this for yourself on a personal level is vital in learning how to execute it on a larger, corporate scale.
Personal growth directly correlates to an enhanced professional development journey. Every aspect of a business affects your position in either a positive or negative way, which is why the personal development tips above are essential.
Nothing will hold you back like you can, and most importantly, companies know this. More and more companies are making personality evaluations a part of their hiring process.
Often we answer these questionnaires by how we think looks professional, but cheating your way through will only help you land a job you hate. Treat the interview process like a date where you hope to be liked, but you also want to like them, too.
Career Path Education
Education doesn’t just mean going to college. Don’t get me wrong, though. Higher education is an indisputable pathway to success. However, how you obtain higher education has more options and maneuvers than what we are commonly taught.
No matter if you’re already enrolled in a university or not, it’s never too late to research the best locations, schools, or training available for your field, as you don’t want to be one of those folks that end up saying “I hate college.”
Find What You Actually Need to Learn
Consider what aspects of knowledge you won’t be able to gain from formal education settings. For example, research what those succeeding in your field look for, value, and do.
Look into every aspect of those people’s lives from what they wear and where they socialize to whose platforms they subscribe to and utilize for their gain. You’ll find that just being around those in your desired field will teach you and open doors that sending resumes cannot.
Just like how you are more than your resume, so are job descriptions. There is a way of life to everything, so a cousin to the phrase “Fake it ‘til you make it” is “Live it, and you’ll be it.”
By doing extra research this way, you will also get a realistic view into whether your desired field’s lifestyle is something you enjoy. For example, many people will claim to want to be in the entertainment industry only to realize they hate the long hours and due processes.
Next, give yourself a history lesson. Make learning the ins and outs of your field a hobby.
If you know where your industry started, you can get a pretty good idea of where it’s going. Your knowledge will help you stand out from other beginners in your field and help you avoid dead-end positions.
Do Your Research
Seeing your field of study listed on a website isn’t enough to ensure your education. Sure, most colleges will have a program for what you want to study, but what about the quality of the education you are gaining?
If you’re looking to apply or transfer to a university or trade school, here is a checklist that will help gauge the quality of your investment and find the right college or school:
a) Are there extracurricular activities and groups that will progress your resume and network?
b) What abroad or remote learning opportunities are available?
c) What extended programs are offered, if any, to get you into the workplace?
d) Is the school in a city or state that has a growing rate for your industry?
e) What is the institution’s graduation rate?
f) What is the average income of the institution’s graduates?
g) Is the program’s curriculum well-rounded and updated?
h) Are there any professors or leaders actively involved in your field of interest you want to learn from?
Education is the first adult investment most people typically make, so make sure what you pick is for your best overall development and not just gaining a piece of paper.
Start Working in Your Industry
Don’t wait until you’re about to graduate to apply for jobs. A big mistake is to think you can only do one step at a time. Waiting to be active in your field until you have your degree or certification is like putting all your eggs in one basket.
Gain Experience and Build Your Resume in an Internship
Whenever talking about career paths, you’ll probably hear someone say, “You’re not passionate about what you don’t do for free.” Take those words with a grain of salt.
Being in the position to work without receiving compensation is a privilege. Work for free while you can if you can, but why not look for paying jobs too? Even at an entry-level, your time and effort are worth money. Although the experience is necessary, you should feel valued and inspired wherever you work.
Inspiration plays a significant role in career success because ridding yourself of a bad taste left by a stale company or position can be difficult. Granted, you probably won’t love everything about where you start, but it should fuel your desire to get you where you want to go.
Putting in the effort needed to find positions of value is no small effort, but here’s a list of ways to start:
a) Find a career service office. These services are vital in learning the interview process, which will help you throughout the duration of your career. They will help you with cover letters, resumes, and interview etiquette.
b) Take a supporting role in your field. Though each field is different, no one starts off being the boss. Though you are not qualified to be a top dog yet, understanding each position that supports yours will contribute to your success and leadership ability.
c) Be an assistant. Find a way to get close to someone doing what you want to be doing. Watch them closely and learn from them.
d) Utilize social media. Both social and professional platforms can help you increase your network. Social platforms are often used to discuss and inform current trends in the industry, so use the follow and post buttons wisely.
e) Get a sales job. There is no better way to learn customer service and the consumer mindset. Everything involves sales, so the better you become, the more profit you’ll make for your future business or company. Sales teach communication skills, service skills, and patience.
f) Look up who’s the best. Do some digging to find who’s at the top of your industry within your area, and apply to any position there. Literally anything. Just get in the door.
g) Apply to everything. The more places you apply, the higher the likelihood of landing a role. Everything is a stepping stone, and at this stage, you’re looking to get even one step ahead of your peers who are fighting for the same positions.
Build Your Resume with Your Lifestyle
Helping out at a charity event one time or attending one hour-long seminar doesn’t show genuine interest in a field. In fact, it shows you cared about your campus social life more than your purpose of why you’re there.
All work and no play leave us bitter. Find extracurricular activities you enjoy that also build your resume. A list of activities to get involved in is:
a) Volunteer: For any career path, volunteering helps you build connections and teaches you grassroots skills that are transferable to any field. This builds character and gives employers a well-rounded image of you as an applicant.
b) Exercise strategically: Join a club that helps keep you fit and helps you practice setting collective goals and punctuality.
c) Learn another language and travel: Knowing another language makes your resume stand out, and having personal travel experiences lets your employer know you can work with a vast clientele. If you are like me, who had poor traveling experience or no clue as to where to travel, then do what I did using this simple tool. I used the discovery bit travel directory to look up a couple of interesting tourist attractions near me. Here is how to effectively use the travel directory.
d) Find love for technology: Every industry has innovative technology that is becoming popular. Learn the software, machines, and operations emerging in your field or other general areas of interest. Technological skill is useful in every position.
e) Get artsy: Being creative is a tangible skill that is an asset as a growing professional. You don’t have to be great at any art form to enjoy it. Throughout your career, you’ll find that colorful thinking helps you think quicker and helps you brainstorm when needing to solve problems.
Many activities can get you the kind of recognition you need to stand out that are authentic to who you are. You shouldn’t sign up for something just because you think it will look good. Pick things you generally enjoy doing and find the ways it connects to your career or passion.
The Realities of Following Your Dream
Shooting for the moon is a great phrase that is readily thrown around, but what to aim with and what to do once you get there are often left for each person to figure out individually. Even the popular affirmation of “You can do anything” falls short if you don’t actually believe in it.
One way to stay confident in reaching your dream is to break the journey down into smaller steps. Looking at the final result can be overwhelming, but if you set specific goals that add up to the dream, you will stay motivated through your career path.
Create Realistic Short-Term Goals
Seeing our wants as lofty, unattainable goals can result in lower self-confidence, which causes us to underperform and therefore hurt our chances of succeeding.
Build yourself up by creating realistic short-term goals that focus on one thing at a time. A career path is much like climbing a mountain. You can envision what the peak looks like but not necessarily the trail that gets you there. In other words, sometimes you have to take small steps to see what’s around the corner before you reach the top.
Mentally Prepare for Failure
Keeping the mountain metaphor in mind, you should also mentally prepare yourself for failure. Not one person has gotten to where they are in their career by never failing. Failing at something doesn’t make you an automatic loser.
And the moments of failure are where your determination and passion are truly put to the test. If hearing “No” is enough to make you turn back on your trail, then that mountain might not be yours to climb.
A list of ways to test your level of passion is:
a) Research the beginning year salary. If you can not envision yourself wanting to work toward your goals given the starting line, chances are you won’t like what it takes to get to finish.
b) Consider your chance of embarrassment. Ever see those embarrassing videos of celebrities when they were younger doing what they are famous for? Those videos are funny because they wouldn’t know how famous they would become, and they look silly back then. If you’re not willing to embarrass yourself a bit, chances are what you’re pursuing isn’t for you.
c) Find the community. Get involved with the local community of your passion and see if it brings you stress or inspiration. Often the most successful people are the ones who love to work together for a common cause.
Another Bit of Career Advice
Don’t be afraid to fail or make mistakes. If you never fail, you’ll likely never win.
One key piece to professional development that all the planning in the universe cannot prepare you for is failing. Failing sucks at the moment, but the reason why your shortcomings get brought up in every interview is because it is important to the employer, as how you keep going after failing matters.
Remember that mountain from earlier? Well, just like a real mountain, your professional path will not be linear. There will be ups and downs, and depending on what you do, each step may not look like a ladder that ends in an executive position.
Contrary to what we are taught, there is no timeline for becoming successful or an expiration date on happiness. Your goals are there for the seizing, and your level of content is for you to maintain balance.
There is no one way to gain success, but hopefully, some of these tools help you on your journey.