Career pathways

Deciding on a future career is undeniably an overwhelming task – especially if you’re totally unsure, but fear not! It’s actually totally normal to feel unsure about the jobs you may want in the future, and feel confused by the huge range of choices and opportunities available to you.

Regardless of whether you have a specific career in mind, you might still be unsure of the path to get there. Whatever may be the case, here are some steps to help you clarify your thinking and to get you thinking about the future.

  • Ask yourself some questions

    Whether you are already set on a certain career, or just want to explore your options, we encourage you to ask yourself a few questions to help better understand who you are and where you are right now, as well as what’s important to you regarding a job. Self-reflective methods such as this will help you to take ‘stock’ of your interests, strengths, skills, and motivations.

    Here are some questions for you to try:

    • What am I passionate about? What subjects do I enjoy the most? What subjects do I enjoy the least?
    • What are my interests in my spare time? How do/ don’t they relate to my favourite subjects?
    • What skills do I already have? What subjects am I strongest in? What is my preferred way of learning?
    • What do I want from my career?
    • What work environment would suit me best? Is this indoors, outdoors, office based, active, or independent?

    Linked below is a Buzz quiz that identifies certain personality types, then matches them to the job areas that suit them the most.

    Find the Buzz quiz here.

  • Explore career possibilities

    Given the fact that most people will spend a large part of their lives at work, it’s important that you research the various job sectors and roles to help you along in the decision-making process. If you can find a career or job sector that you’re happy with, this is time well spent. The best place to start is online, with different websites providing up-to-date information and advice regarding career paths. Listed below are a few free to access sites that we recommend.


    Another way to explore career options include getting involved in work experience, work shadowing or volunteering. In general, these will give you the best tasters of what certain roles have to offer, and will give you an invaluable insight into the industry you’re getting involved in. This is a great way to find if certain roles or industries are right for you before you make any sort of commitment to them.

    You’ll also be gaining great practical skills in a working environment that can be further developed over time, and your work experience could also lead either to paid work or valuable connections/ references to make getting into that industry just a little easier.

    Take any opportunities you come across to ask people about their jobs, this could be through attending careers events, employers visiting your campus, or simply speaking to campus staff, family, carers, or friends. Speaking to people in various industries will help give you some fresh ideas (and maybe some inspiration!) about your own career plans.

  • Start to make a decision (and a plan)

    After completing your initial research, you should compile a shortlist of the jobs that you felt interested in the most. Then, use the answers to the earlier questions to help you assess how well you match up with them. For example, do you have the right skills, qualities, and interests for the role? Do you have or expect to get the necessary qualifications? And most importantly, does it correspond with what you want from your career?

    There’s no need to rush, so take plenty of time to make a decision. You should avoid rushing this process or making any snap decisions based on one thing you read or heard, as this would render your initial research essentially useless. Instead, we recommend writing down your key points and preferences in order to make sense of them all. Read and reflect on this information surrounding your ideas.

    If after this stage you’re in a place to make a decision you feel confident with, it’s time to think about creating an action plan. This will help you to set out both your short and long-term goals, including the steps you need to take to achieve them. Review this plan regularly and add any new information as it becomes necessary. Your tutors or career advisors will be able to help you create this.

     Finally, it’s vital that you understand that your job ideas and goals may change and develop over time as you gain new experiences, learn new things and meet new people. As such, it’s important that you take a flexible approach in your career planning, in order to make space for your decision making to evolve.