Career Thinking: the ultimate chicken and egg conundrum

Keeping in with the Easter theme. The more I’ve experienced, both as a student and a worker, the frequency of this analogy in my choices…how do we decide on a career options? or worse still, how do I even get started thinking about career?

If you have met me or read my previous blogs, you will know that I studied Law as an undergraduate and had a water-tight ambition to become a Solicitor. It was only when a Careers Adviser asked me why and how I’d come to that decision that I realised how flawed it was. Cutting a long story short, this led to a profound crisis of identity.

Why is this story important to you?

Two reasons:

  1. It took me some time to solve this problem but I solved it and continually do.
  2. Career thinking is a process and not just a feeling – sadly, we spend less time thinking about our long-term future than we do buying the latest phone or planning a night out with friends.

First thing first, don’t panic!

It doesn’t matter where you start whether it’s reading about career, networking, employment, volunteer work, talking to a Careers Adviser an Academic…just start!

There is a fine-line between thinking and worrying which is why, I think, that we spend less time thinking about our career than other things – answers don’t come easy.

Instinctively, the next people to connect with are peers because you’re all in the same boat right? Possibly family too? Then, last but not least do it tomorrow or stick with your gut feeling and what you know.

These are important factors to take into account but they need to be combined with crucial second opinions from professionals, i.e. Careers Advisers and professionals within your area of interest. Their views will be independent and offer practical steps for progression.

Remember, this is a process!

Be methodical about how you approach things. Some will find a lucrative and/or their dream career by chance, but for many, this process alone limits options and possibility too much.

Factor in some methodical approaches alongside and happen-stance and you will have a greater pool of options to pick from.


Don’t just stick to what you know because this approach often means less choice. A little exploration doesn’t harm your existing ideas if they are the right ones anyway. Secondly, start this process as soon as you can because knowing the bigger picture early leads to better career decisions and provides more time to act on the options available.

Prospects: what can I do with my subject and job profiles are great depositories of information on career options.

What do you want from career?

Knowing facts about jobs and professions is important but understanding what you want from career is critical. You don’t need to know what job you will have for the rest of your life but the small questions often help answer the bigger ones.

  1. What do you want work to look like?
  2. Who or what might this involve?
  3. What do you want from work?

Your current situation

This is something that is often overlooked until you hit a dead-end or you’re in over your head. Understand your situation first, get other opinions and listen to your gut instinct too.

Check finances, logistics and availability of an occupation in your area before possibly overcommitting. Do you have children or family commitments? Do you want to take some time out before jumping into the next big thing?

Strengths and preferences?

Strengths and preferences are a good guide to be an effective and happy worker. Anybody reading this who has had a job they hate will vouch for this.

List three strengths of yours in relation to things that you do and care about?

Additionally, identify the types of environment, people, duties and equipment you prefer to work in?

Critical check-list

  1. Research all available options
  2. Talk to relevant organisations and professions
  3. Try it out with some volunteer work, placement/internship or shadowing
  4. Reflect on its suitability to you – repeat if necessary

We’re still here to help!

As always, the Careers and Employability is here to help, even in these difficult times. You can access us, via emailtelephone or video call by emailing as well as My Careers Centre.

Have a happy and safe Easter from everybody at Hope

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