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#GCTopTips 5: 5 Tips on choosing the perfect career for you

11 January 2018


Career planning is a continuous process, and is something that, if started sooner rather than later, can help you decide which career and industry you would like to work in once you have finished education. Deciding what career you want to work towards when you leave school, college or higher education can be daunting, which is why planning ahead and taking steps early can help you decide which path you want to take and get you there quicker. Our top tips will help you make the most out of your time in education and help you build a solid career plan over the coming months:

Top Tip #1: Identify your skills and interests

The first step is assessing your current skills and interests. Look at your hobbies and the things you enjoy doing outside of education, as well as what you enjoy learning. One of the most important things about a career is that you enjoy it and are able to fulfil your potential, while also staying motivated. 

Ask yourself questions like: What am I good at? What is important to me from a job? What hobbies do I have that can be made into a career?

For example, if you are good at maths and science at school, and enjoy drawing in your spare time, a career in architecture could be perfect for you. Or if you are passionate about fashion and are good working with your hands, how about a career in fashion design? If you are good at sport, and love to teach, why not choose a career in outdoor education? The choices are endless, and there is a perfect career out there for everyone if you work hard to choose the right one and plan what skills, qualifications and experience you need to get there.

In the early stages of planning, you don't need to identify a single career for you, the first steps are all about finding the right industry for you.

Top Tip #2: Explore different industries

There are loads of industries in which you can work, but each falls into one of three categories: Private - sole traders, partnerships and limited companies; Public - local and national governments and agencies; Not-for-profit - often referred to as the third sector or charities.

Each of these types of sectors have very different work ethics and environments. Choosing which type of environment you want to work in can help you not only narrow down a sector and industry, but also help you decide what size company you would like to work for, or whether you would like to be self-employed. Smaller businesses often have more relaxed working environments, but offer less progression and training opportunities, whereas larger companies are more corporate but may be able to offer better in-house training and progression.

When you have a couple of career paths in mind, look further into the jobs you think you would enjoy and create a short list of advantages and disadvantages of each: What is the career development? What qualifications and skills do you need to apply? Does the job description sound like something you would enjoy doing? Does the company offer any training or progression? What are the conditions and salary?

Top Tip #3: Assess your current situation

The next step is to identify where you are right now and how this may affect your future plans - What skills do you need to improve? What qualifications do you need? How long will it take to reach your full potential or goal career? Include in your plan potential obstacles as well as positives. One way to do this is to conduct a SWOT analysis identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that you have and may become available in the future, as well as external factors that you have no control over.

Once you have a solid plan, you can make a timeline of smaller goals you need to achieve along the way. For example, "I will book on to two college open days by the end of the week" or "I will complete three weeks' of relevant work experience in the summer holidays".

Top Tip #4: Get work experience or volunteer

Work experience or volunteering can give you invaluable insight into what it's truly like to work in a specific industry, as well as provide you with transferable skills and experience that will help you stand out to potential employers. Working in a business is very different from experiences you may have come across in school, college or university, and can often be a deciding factor in which career path you will follow.

Many college courses at GC offer work placements. For example, those studying health and social care or early years spend one day a week in the workplace. For students who don't have work opportunities built into their course, there is the chance to complete work experience or an internship in order to build the skills and confidence employers are looking for.

Struggling to find the perfect volunteering opportunity for you? Volunteering Gloucestershire has an ever changing list of volunteering opportunities for under 18's. Visit their website here.

Top Tip #5: Take advantage of opportunities

Many schools and colleges offer work experience, volunteering, or opportunities to gain valuable skills as a student ambassador, supporting with events, or through clubs and societies. Taking full advantage of these by joining clubs you enjoy, which also give you skills that will reflect positively on your CV, can help you stand out against other applicants when it comes to applying for jobs later on.

At Gloucestershire College, you will have the opportunity to personalise your study programme by choosing the best development for you through our range of work experience, volunteering, sporting, training, advice and guidance opportunities. 

Find out more about our Student Development and educational opportunities that can help you on your way to your dream career at our January Open Evenings. Book your place here.

Why Gloucestershire College?

We have a lot of experience offering Apprenticeships and work-related training. We have industry-standard facilities and experienced teaching staff which provide the ideal complement to work-based learning.

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