DESC Careers Information, Advice and Guidance Service

What even is a career?

The word career used to be associated with paid employment in a single job. Today, we recognise that career is made up of many different stages; further study, gap year, part time work, volunteering.

The changing and uncertain nature of the future of work means that many of you are not ‘choosing a job for life’. We change constantly and so does the world of work, so adaptability and resilience will be important skills to master.

Your first destination after leaving school, college or university is a step on a path towards new directions and decisions.

You can find out about the future of work using this download The Future of Work this information is available on the National Careers Week website.


A job or career?

A job is something you do for the money. Most jobs have hourly wages, are more short-term, and focus on getting a task done. That’s not to say that jobs aren’t valuable, jobs are the foundation of our society, keep the country running and help people build their broad, transferable employability skills.

A career is all about building up skills through various employment opportunities, giving you the ability to move on to higher paying and more prestigious roles. Careers are underpinned by a foundation of experiences sometimes from both in and outside of work (ie life wide) that help fuel your professional life for many years. Careers should be thought about more long-term and are about learning, gaining experience, building connections, and putting yourself in the right position for promotions and pay rises.

Career paths are not usually a straight line from A to B, if it were that simple we would find it much easier to make decisions. Careers challenge you to keep learning new skills and adapting this in turn keeps you interested and motivated in the role you are doing.


Influence and choice

There are many factors that influence options and career choice. Family, friends, teachers the internet, TV or a positive role model. Take a moment to consider who and what is influencing your career choice.

The people that know you well are good sources of information and support. They can help you to understand what your strengths and skills are, what you are good at and how you can take advantage of these qualities in the future. A misconception about an industry or career choice could lead into making the wrong choice or put you onto a path that is not right for you. It is important that you take ownership of your decisions. Consider that you are the one who will have to stay motivated and committed to your choice.

Start by doing your own research. Be pro-active, take up volunteering, extracurricular activities or a part-time job. These experiences will help you to learn about your strengths and develop new skills. Call upon friends who are already working in sectors you have an interest in – just talking to someone within the industry you're interested could be invaluable in helping you to work out the right path for you.

Investigate, explore, keep an open mind

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Career Planning What is Career?