Career planning tips

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Career planning tips

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Going to university is a life-changing experience.

You want to make the best of this investment in your future. But what if you're not quite sure what you want to do?

First: don't panic.

If you don't know what you want to do for a career, that's okay. University is about discovering new ideas, building your skills and finding your own path, so you don't need to be 100 percent sure to get started.

But there are some easy steps you can follow to explore your career options and start to get a feel for the different jobs or industries you might be best suited for.

1. Start with yourself

The first step is thinking about your own interests, strengths and goals. This will help you narrow down the types of jobs or environment you are looking for. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What is important to you and your personal life?
  • What is important to you in a job?
  • What interests you? What do you like and dislike?
  • What motivates you – what makes you want to do your best and why?
  • What work or study have you liked or been good at in the past?
  • What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
  • What do you want your workplace to be like?
  • What knowledge and skills do you currently have?

USC's Character Assessment (PDF 1.8MB) tool can help you find out more about your work preferences and which career direction you want to take. You can also try the Australian Government's Job Outlook Career Quiz.

2. Research careers and occupations

Once you have an idea of which careers you might be interested in, you can start to research specific jobs, to get a feel for the training, knowledge and skills they require. Start with the broader industry and make a list of job titles. For each job, try to answer questions like:  

  • What skills are needed?
  • Does the job require a particular degree?
  • What are the tasks/responsibilities involved? 
  • How much does the job earn (at entry level and with more experience)?
  • What is the potential growth in this field or industry?
  • What are the future trends?
  • Is it what you want to do?

Don't forget to look for jobs that might fit in a range of industries. For example, a marketing graduate might work in a marketing company or advertising agency, or they might work in a marketing role in sports or tourism.

3. Talk to people

When you've narrowed down your choices, find people who do the job you are interested in. (LinkedIn is a great way to do this.) Reach out to people and ask what a day on the job is really like. Many professionals are happy to share their thoughts and advice – they may even let you shadow them for a day.

Look for professional groups or associations related to your area of interest, and see whether they offer career planning or networking opportunities.

4. Look for the right degree

Explore study areas or use our Career directory to browse occupations and see which degree/s will help you achieve your career goals.

Remember: your skills will grow (and change) over time.

According to the Foundation for Young Australians, the future of work is in transferable skills like problem solving, communication, teamwork, critical thinking and digital literacy. Demand for these skills is on the rise, and employers often prioritise them over technical skills.

All USC programs include a strong focus on the core skills you’ll need in the future workplace. No matter what you study, you’ll learn to communicate well, solve problems and think creatively. All programs also include hands-on training, practical experience and internships.

Source: The New Basics: FYA's New Work Order Series, The Foundation for Young Australians.

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