The Mentorship Spot
How To Discover the Right Career Path
By Himani Trivedi (JD/HBA Dual Degree Student, at Western Law and Ivey Business School)
“Help! I don’t know what I’m interested in. How do I know which career to pursue?” ~More people than you might think
High school is a time to discover your interests and figure out your future career path. Most people expect to stumble upon their calling in due time, hoping that the courses that they are taking will spark their interest in something they will go on to pursue. Others have already come to high school with a plan (or dream) of their future job. What if your big realization doesn’t come to you by – grade 10? Grade 11? Grade 12? Rest assured – it isn’t a race, though there IS some method to this madness. There are several ways you can guide yourself in determining your future career path. You must commit to this process, however, and know that it is never too early to start!
Ask yourself – What Are Your Strengths?
Were or are there courses that you are particularly good at? Why do you perform best in these? Is it because the skills it requires are your strong suits or do you feel motivated to work harder because you truly enjoy the content? Determining what subject and/or skills you are best suited for is the first step to discovering what area you might want to pursue. Your hobbies, activities and extracurriculars can also help you identify your strengths. What kind of skills are engaged by your hobbies or activities? Some examples of such skills may be writing, working with numbers, designing, creating maps/plans or being spatially and physically coordinated. With a better understanding of yourself, you will be able to brainstorm which career paths allow you to continue to harness your strongest skills. Your friends, peers and guidance/career counsellors can be great resources in helping you make connections and envision your future.
Understand the ‘Day-to-Day’ of a Job
Every career is fascinating and stimulating in its own way. However, the workload and types of tasks one might be doing while at work can vary – maybe by day or through the years (e.g. which stage of career progression you are in). To know that you would truly enjoy and be proficient at something, the day to day of a career must excite you! How do you find out? Consider reaching out to someone (a working professional or a student currently pursuing the career of your choice) that you, your family, or your friends know in the career field(s) you are interested in. You can also connect with and contact students and professionals in various career fields on social networks such as Linkedin or by visiting websites of companies and organizations in the industry. Ask the individual (via e-mail or phone) if they would be open to speaking with you about your interest in their area of work. During your conversation, you may want to ask them questions such as:
How did you realize this is what you wanted to do?
What does a regular day at work look like for you?
Tell me about an interesting project/situation at work?
What can I do as a student to figure out if this career is for me?
Visit a University/College and/or Attend Events
Majority of Ontario universities participate in the Ontario Universities’ Fair, which provides an opportunity to learn of the number of different programs and pathways possible after high school (https://www.ontariouniversitiesfair.ca/). To further explore specific universities, and their programs, you can start by digging around on https://www.ontariouniversitiesinfo.ca/. The website also has a section that highlights upcoming virtual open house events and career-specific events that you may be interested in attending to learn more. Similarly, https://www.ontariocolleges.ca/en/ also provides a strong starting point for research on the variety of programs and colleges located in Ontario. Some institutions may also allow you to visit their campus by scheduling special campus tours or information sessions. Taking advantage of such opportunities starts with taking initiative to contact the institution(s) of your choice to learn more.
Keep an Open Mind
The number of career paths and job functions that exist are too great for anyone to have ever discovered all of them – perhaps in their lifetime, let alone in high school! Keeping this in mind, always encourage yourself to step out of your comfort zone, embrace new opportunities and ask questions about things you don’t know or understand. Join that club. Apply for that position. Take that course. Approach that person. Several people change career paths during or after university/college, and many go on to pursue fields that they had never considered or known about in high school.
The road is long – trust that while you must make the best decision for yourself in the current moment, you always have the opportunity to continue to learn and develop yourself in the future to end up exactly where you want to be!