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  • Careers Advice

    Ali gives some tips on trying to choose a career path


What do you want to be when you grow up?

11 June 2019

School leavers, graduates, career changers; we all sometimes wonder: “what career will be the best fit for me?”

For many of us, despite having academic aptitude or a keen interest in one school subject or another, the perfect career path is not immediately obvious. It can be difficult to fathom how to turn your love for English Literature into a job that will pay the bills, unless you happen to want to be an author or teacher. Roles that you idolise from the periphery may also turn out not to be your cup of tea in practice.

To gain more certainty, there are several things you can try to hone in on the type of role you should be applying for.

Start by working out your skills. Removing careers and different industries from the equation entirely for a moment, ask yourself a few telling questions.  What am I best at?  What hobbies do I enjoy? What tasks do I like the be involved with? Also, think about your personal preferences.  Do you enjoy getting into the detail and problem solving? Are you particularly caring towards others? Are you creative with an eye for colour? If you’re struggling, ask your friends and family what they think your best and strongest suits are; they might surprise you!

Think about the working environment that might suit you best too. Company cultures can vary widely. Perhaps you enjoy an environment where there’s always lots of action over one which is quietly productive. Maybe you prefer being out meeting people or being outdoors rather than being office-based all day.  If you want to experience different opportunities than perhaps a large or even global employer would work for you.

Next, do some research about industries and roles that suit your skill set. Online quizzes may help but when you find something that sounds appealing, look at companies which operate in that field, browse LinkedIn to see whether you know anybody working in the sector and try to find job specifications that will give you a greater insight into what days look like doing each type of role.

Once you have a shortlist you can gather real world information.  Reach out to companies in your chosen field and ask for informational interviews or work experience. An informational interview is a meeting where there is no job role to be filled but simply an opportunity for you to ask questions about the roles you are interested in, learn how the company recruits for those positions and whether there are any specific qualifications or skills they are looking for.

Work experience is a great way to immerse yourself in the field you are considering by shadowing key people within an organisation for as little as a few days. This can be challenging for those already working to fit around their current role but using a week of your holiday allowance to get some valuable experience and contacts may be worthwhile if you can make a great impression and learn a lot.

Trying a few different options, or experiencing a similar role within different companies to see how the environment differs, can put you in a much stronger position to make decisions about your next steps. Depending on what you have learned, you may be ready to apply for roles in your preferred sector, or you might want to try temping for a while to get more experience and information before committing to one employer while earning some money. You might also find it useful to get a job in a related field where you are able to undertake further study to get the necessary skills for your dream role.

To learn more about accounting and advisory opportunities at BDO, or to discuss work experience, bursaries or training contracts, contact Ali: [email protected]


This article originally appeared in The Guernsey Press Careers Supplement.