The stress of finding a Career

Patrick Green

For my first year of University (and a lot of other people I know) ‘it’s only first year’ was the dominant phrase. Grades didn’t matter -it was only first year. Careers? Didn’t need to think about those – it was only first year. Hangovers were probably the biggest concern for many in first year (I’m not in any way belittling first year, only looking back at my own), I was always told to start thinking about careers in second year, that was a long, long way off. But now, I’m in second year, except I’m no closer to knowing what I want to do than I was at school. The situation is the same, but it seems the pressure is a lot greater and more pressing.

The scary thing isn’t that I’m now half way through my degree (although that is terrifying), but rather that everyone else seems to have a grip. All my friends are off applying for fancy internships or going on a year abroad, some have even done an internship already. Here I am though, muddling on, writing about how unprepared I am rather than getting prepared…It’s quite hard not to look around at what everyone else is doing and get stressed about it, it’s natural to look at your peers and then back at yourself, it just isn’t necessarily very helpful. The career zone on campus is a great resource, I went there hoping to be magically tested, then told what my dream career would be and then how to achieve this. Don’t do that. It doesn’t tell you that – you need to have an inkling of what sector or industry you would or wouldn’t like to go in, they can only help with what you give them to go off. So, turning up and telling them you have no idea what you want to do isn’t the best plan of action – they can help you as much as you allow them to.

It is daunting to look at your post-Uni prospects, or at least the ‘idea’ of them. For a lot of people, it will be the first time out of education and in a full-time working environment – it seems like a distant and misty future; nothing certain or clear. Even more daunting is that its up to you, it’s your responsibility, no one else will help to the same extent as when you were at school or in the career zone. You’re in control, which is obviously great: you can decide exactly what you want to do! However, if that is exactly what you don’t know, its scary. The best advice I’ve had from family and friends is simple: don’t stress. Being really worried and stressed won’t make your future any clearer, if anything it will make it more difficult to look for or even decide what you want to do.

This doesn’t mean do nothing of course; do as much as you can for your CV and for yourself. The more experience you get the heftier your CV will be. But more importantly the more experiences you have the more likely you will be able to find something you want to do. And even if you don’t find something and you do continue to worry, at least you’ll not allow worry to stop you doing things, no matter how irrelevant they turn out to be. Give yourself as wide a spectrum of opportunity as possible – something will come up and you’ll be able to say you’ve done all these things rather than sitting and waiting for something to happen to you.

If that doesn’t convince you, this might: ‘millennials will change jobs an average of four times in their first decade out of college,’.[1] It is unlikely that the job you enter after Uni will be the job you retire from – you don’t need to get it right straight away.