Careers Don’t Have To Be “Right First Time”

Sometimes you read a recommendation* and just hear the clear ringing sound as the hammer makes contact with the head of that nail.

I’m always dubious about any article claiming to be “the one thing you need to know to sort your life out” but for some of you,

(click on image for link to US News blog post)

may turn out to be just that.

Why this article is great advice
I’ve seen careers stall and drift over many years because people settle for a “make-do” job on graduation, “just until they work out what they really want to do” or because they don’t want to get stuck in the wrong job. Twenty years later, they’re still there, as the blinding flash of inspiration never hits. They’re reasonably comfortable where they are – but in a career totally devoid of passion.

This article helps you re-frame your first job (or few jobs) as a time of exploration. Think of them as doing R&D on yourself, as you work out what you’re good at, and what energises you. In that way, even doing a job you know isn’t a long term career prospect becomes an opportunity to learn about yourself and the next job becomes the chance to get one step closer to your ideal job.

It’s likely to be an iterative process, and one you may have to repeat at later stages in your career, as the world of work changes – or you do – and you need to re-focus your career in a different direction. Seems like a good idea to get the practice in early.

Transitioning out of research
I think this is particularly relevant to those considering moving out of academia after doing a PhD or post-doctoral work in a university. The outside world often regards you as career changers (to them, you’ve already chosen research as a career) and making a transition to a new field is often not straight forward.

How can you find out how others in your position have explored different kinds of work?

At Pathways, our annual career options event for researchers.

Book your place for Friday 10th June 2011 to hear from over 60 researchers in a wide range of careers, and ask them how they found a “best-fit” career.

* thanks for recommendation from @CareersGroup & @davidawinter