Uncertainty in Career Starts and Transitions.
Updated: Oct 3, 2020
Everything in our lives is supposed to lead us to getting a full time job with benefits. Once you get there, it's quite common to think... okay, so what now?
I know people that immediately began working full time upon graduation, I know people that took a few months off, I know people that took a year off. The one thing that almost all of them have in common is that they felt lost because they didn't have anything specific to work towards. Regardless of whether or not you attend college or university, the first ~20%-25% of your life is designated to education. Once that's over, there's a level of uncertainty that raises its ugly head, and no one particularly enjoys its presence.
There seems to be 2 main concerns that many people have at the start of their working life, and they are: did I put myself in the right field? and what can I work towards now?
The first concern seems to be particularly prominent in university grads (myself included). Majors like sociology, psychology, biology, english, history and others. don't give clear career paths, and yet they remain common choices. The other possibility is that upon graduating from a program that does provide a clear path and job security e.g: business, nursing, social work, various forms of engineering, it's possible to realize a couple of years into your career that this field won't work for you long term.
People will deal with every situation differently, but I think online education has made these concerns significantly more manageable to deal with. If you choose to take steps towards switching careers, then a very good first step is getting some background in another field that interests you. Of course there is the unavoidable financial burden however, if you're already working in a field you don't like, then it's worth paying for a course or two to see if it's worth making more of an investment later.
One useful tool when considering a career or a career change, that should be provided by a career counselor is a personality test. I found the Meyers - Briggs personality test to be quite helpful as there's various websites already devoted to matching careers to personality types. Of course these tests are not always entirely accurate, especially they're not provided by a professional (in which case they would be heavily scrutinized); but they are a good guidance tool.
In terms of the second question of what can I work towards now?
There's not one answer to this, some people will immediately start saving for a house, look for a partner, plan some vacations. If you're asking yourself what to work towards next, then it's likely that you're in a position in which you've got all your ducks in a row at the moment in which case... enjoy it! This is a great time to volunteer, pick up a hobby, and/or up your self care routine! you've worked your whole life to get to where you are, do something that you didn't have the opportunity to do before, or something that you've been to afraid to try.
I'm currently in a weird place where I'm actually in-between these two positions. I got my full time job in healthcare but I know that my career goals will require more education. So I'm actually coping with my "what now?" concern by taking online courses and upgrading my self care routine.
If you're in or recently graduated from a University program, then please know that coming out of your degree and having no idea what you're doing is very common. I've talked to a lot of successful people and professors that have told me that they all dealt with this uncertainty. It's hard, it's stressful, but your life isn't over at 25. Take what I've said here and try to run with it, if you can take any comfort in knowing that the next 2 years of my life will be devoted to attaining a sustainable career even though I've already completed a degree from a world class university, then please take it. If you can take comfort in the fact that my two best professors in university both dealt with this same problem after their undergrad, then please do, cause that certainly helped me write this post.