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When Should I Start Preparing For My Career?

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When Should I Start Preparing For My Career?

For a lot of students nearing senior year, high school graduation, or even university graduation, career preparation is one of their top priorities. 

There are different perspectives when it comes to career planning for each individual because some might want to get an early head start and begin looking for work experience as soon as they’re out of high school, but others might want to put their job search on pause until they are university seniors.        

Let us explore a few specific examples to think about the question:     


“When is the right time to start thinking/preparing for my career?”

Scenario 1

  • This individual already knows what to do from a very young age, and their student life is set and planned exactly their way from the day they had to pick a specific stream/field in school. This could apply to fields like medical sciences, dentistry, other STEM fields, or really any field if one knows early on what they want their work experience to look like based on personal strengths and/or passions, or even family background. 

 

  • This is an ideal scenario for any high-achieving student, seeing that their career trajectory already appears secure and focused. But it does no harm to have backups!

Scenario 2

  • This student already has a specific career journey planned but due to some unfortunate or unforeseen circumstances, they cannot move ahead and prioritize their chosen path before handling the said situation, like family emergencies, et cetera.

 

  • But, if this student is willing to remain in school or university and is able to complete their formal education – it will prove to be a difficult but rewarding effort for their future job search. In cases of extreme difficulties where being a university graduate is not achievable, that student may consider alternatives such as TVET education that could still help them gain work experience later.

Scenario 3

  • This student is unsure of their options or simply does not know what they want for a career in the future. The best idea is to stay in school and try their best to achieve graduation with a degree that secures employment. If not, then TVET education is also a good option to guarantee employability. 
  • Despite not having a career map planned (which is not an issue, because this is not always a high priority life decision for every student) this student may gain better clarity into their job search as an adult who is ready to enter the working world once they discover themselves as they go. 
  • It may appear to some as a trial and error approach but exploration can help one have a career that they’re passionate about instead of going about it the “correct way”. Needless to say, it is important to weigh out the benefits for different options – are interests and passion rewarding enough, or is playing to one’s strengths the best career choice?

Scenario N

  • This is the most realistic and important scenario, because to most students, the above question may be extremely open-ended. There are N number of ways that life factors can influence one’s decision to even begin thinking about their career. 
  • A very relevant example of unexpected life factors is the pandemic, the consequences of which include the entire world adapting to a new normal of virtual education, jobs, and daily routines – the traditional career route for any graduate is difficult to navigate at this time. 
  • This is why a lot of thought needs to be put into career planning, and it is always a good idea to discuss backup options with peers, experienced family members who are well-established professionals, and especially professors or career counselors at school or university.

Therefore, there is no “right time” as such because every career map is unique to an individual’s needs and current situation, be it family, academics, finances, et cetera. Additionally, even if one does start career preparation at an ideal time that works best in a given scenario, there is no surefire way to really prepare oneself for all bumps in the road. 

For further career knowledge for students and young professionals alike, here is a blog discussing the question: “Do grades matter?”, and another useful blog on career-building pointers.

 

We wish you all the best in your future career journey!

 

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School of Careers by Talentbank