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Your Future Career Q1 2023

How to stay motivated and make informed career choices

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Chris Rea

Careers Expert, Prospects at Jisc

Staying motivated enough to think about life after studying is easier said than done. It can be even harder to take the practical steps necessary to get where you want to be.

Keeping motivated was cited in our Early Careers survey as the biggest challenge among students taking their next steps after school. This is perhaps no surprise after the disruption of the last three years — from the shift to online learning and the cancellation of exams to the impact on social lives. But that doesn’t make it less concerning.

For many young people, we found that this lack of motivation is manifesting itself in poor job applications and disengagement in careers.

Staying motivated in your own way

It’s important to remember to take the pressure off. This means avoiding comparisons with friends and peers because everyone is in different situations. Take the time you need to focus on yourself and be proactive.

Setting realistic goals can help to get you started, manage your time and remove some of the pressure from thinking that you always need to be doing something about getting a job. This could be reserving a couple of hours a week to research careers or setting a target for how many companies you will apply to for work experience.

Making career planning part of your routine will make the process easier as you’ll become familiar with the available resources and opportunities.

Consider how you can develop your skills
so you’re an attractive candidate.

Making informed career choices

Despite our survey showing that career professionals are the most helpful source of support, only around a quarter of students sought advice from them, and attendance in career activities is in decline. 

Professionals are best placed to help students make informed career choices. As well as offering one-to-one appointments, there are workshops to help with writing CVs and job applications.

Careers services also provide a door to local companies for work experience, jobs or apprenticeships. They will have a good idea of the opportunities available and offer the chance to attend talks, ‘taster’ days and take part in projects set by employers. Seek career advice and find out what opportunities are on offer.

Consider how you can develop your skills so you’re an attractive candidate. Bear in mind that this doesn’t have to be a formal internship. Part-time work, volunteering and being part of a group are valuable. One of the most important aspects of landing the job you want will be your ability to identify and demonstrate the skills you’ve developed.

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