DESC Careers Information, Advice and Guidance Service

Where to start?

Thinking about what you are going to do in the future, can be a challenge. Here are some tips to get you started. Get to know yourself by thinking about what you're good at. This page will help you to start by considering things like your interests, strengths, skills and personality.

Interests are things you enjoy – like subjects at school, going to gigs, sports, music, fitness or baking. Your interests can help you choose a career you’ll love.

Strengths are things you’re naturally good at – like solving problems, being persuasive or being organised. Understanding them can help you think about which jobs you’d be good at.

Skills are things you develop through work or study – like public speaking, using other languages, teaching people, programming computers. You can match your skills to the ones employers are looking for.

You can try this National Careers Week five minutes of Postivity Activity to help you to think about your strengths and skills.


Start with YOU!

If you have a goal already, great news! You can use this information to find out if your personality and strengths match the career you have in mind. You can also investigate your ideas in more detail. Your interest in different types of careers or your goals may change over time, this is perfectly normal. The best way to start to prepare for the process of career planning is to take some steps to get to know more about yourself. Here are some tips of how to make a start in getting to know yourself.

Think about what you really like doing

What subjects have you found especially interesting? What activities keep you so absorbed that you don't even notice how much time has passed? List 10 things you really like, this activity can help to reveal possible future ideas to explore.

Can you make connections between ideas on your list? Are a group of items related to the arts, science or social activities or technology?

Identify stand out experiences

Your experiences are shaping who you will become in the future. Experiences provide you with opportunities to develop skills and find out what you do and don't like doing. Think about three experiences that taught you something about yourself. This could be related to work experience, voluntary work, extra curricular activities, part time work, helping out in the family business. Even something that didn't go to plan. Choose one that gave you the greatest sense of achievement. Write a sentence that explains why that was so. If you can pinpoint what you enjoyed about these experiences, you can aim towards career ideas that will provide these types of opportunities in the future. These experiences will have helped you to develop new skills, knowledge and understanding about yourself whilst you were completing them. What did you really enjoy? Even the experience you didn't enjoy has taught you something about yourself.

Know your qualities

Are you friendly, creative, impatient, funny, organised? Try writing down a list of 10 qualities you feel describe your personality. Ask your friends, family and teachers to name some of your qualities — sometimes other people see us more clearly than we see ourselves. Add their suggestions to your list. Now think about what sort of career fits the person your list describes. You can keep adding to your list your unique qualities are endless.

Consider your strengths and weaknesses

Make a list of your five top strengths and weaknesses. Understanding your strengths increases self awareness and is a real confidence booster. Strengths and weaknesses can be developed through your experiences and will change throughout your life. If you’re a good public speaker, for example, explore what types of careers call for that skill. You can use this strengths list WYS_glossary_v7_download.docx created by Katherine Jennick, Whats Your Strength will help you to understand your top five strengths and maybe a few more. This will be helpful when thinking about what you can do in the future and if you are creating a CV to apply for a job. Our Careers Advisor can help you understand what unique skills and qualities you have to offer using skills cards. This knowledge about yourself can not only boost your confidence it can help when you are attending education or employment interviews in the not too distant future.

Your weaknesses can also tell you a lot about where you might go. You can either steer away from careers that require skills you’re not confident about or work to improve weaknesses that may keep you from your goals. Remember anything is possible and skills can be learnt and improved upon throughout your education and experiences.

Create a me map

You can now organise the information about you by creating a 'me map'. Take a blank sheet of paper and jot down all the the things you know about yourself. You may want to divide the page into columns, create a mind map or a spider diagram, draw pictures or make a collage – just choose a format that suits you.

You could even create a board on Pinterest or make a digital scrapbook. Include anything that appeals to you such as school subjects, hobbies or interests, issues, TV programmes, companies\organisations, products, and people you admire. You could include your character traits – what are your top qualities? What makes you – YOU?!

Start to look for patterns and themes. What connections are there between the items on your map? Does anything spark ideas? Can you see any links with possible job areas?

Think about next steps. Is there a particular job type you can research? Continue to add your Me Map, or after a period of time create a new one. Repeat the steps above and see where your ideas lead…

Investigate, explore, keep an open mind.

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Career Planning Where to Start?