Finding the Right Career: A Guide for University Students

As a student, you have time to find yourself, to enjoy, study, to meet new people and explore new places.

It is important though to have in mind different possibilities for finding the right career when the time comes.

This might not be right out of university, but instead after a planned post-graduate qualification, you might want to travel, make academia your career, find a job in the short-term just to pay the bills, or you might already have a clear career path in mind.

It is also okay to not be sure what you want to do at this point in your life. Not every person has the answers right away, but that doesn’t mean you are stuck with no choices and nothing to do.

Every person is different, and every career path is your own specific journey. We’ve put together a guide to help you make the right choices for you as you navigate the university and what to do when navigating to find the right career for you.

Girl happy at work

How to plan for a future career

The first thing you can do when you are trying to plan a future career is to think about jobs and careers that you are interested in, and from there everything else can be worked out.

A part-time job as a student

For some students, a part-time job is necessary, especially if you are living in a particularly expensive city (we’ve helped you before with tips on how to find a job in London as a student), and it also provides you with great working experience to put on your CV.

Even if the part-time job you have has nothing to do with your university degree or what you want to do for a career in the future, it always looks good to have experience working in the real world, interacting with different types of people, showing initiative and following instructions.

Girl in a part time job at a coffee shop

Look at your interests, strengths and weaknesses

When thinking about a potential career path, look at your own personal interests, what you are good at and even the things you are not so good at. If a career you like the sound of requires you to become better at a certain skill, it gives you something to work towards.

You should also remember that your skills and experience might end up being well suited to a completely different career than the one you first intended when entering university. That is fine. Life is fluid and we change as we grow older.

girl looking outside and thinking

Will you enjoy this career?

Some of us have grand plans and want to excel in a career that we’ve had in mind from a young age. What a lot of people forget to think about though is finding the career that gives you a good life/work balance. Being happy in your job is important, but it is often overlooked. Be honest with yourself about whether you see yourself being happy in the role you’re aiming for.

Girl shaking hands with a girl looking happy

Network and speak to people

Talk to people about your plans and find out whether you are approaching things in the most effective way. Career fairs throughout the year provide you with the perfect chance to speak to real professionals from industries you are interested in. These people have hands-on experience and have been where you are now.

They can help you figure out if the industry is for you, and if it is, what they would be looking for when recruiting graduates. They might also be able to help you find internship programmes and shadowing opportunities.

Girl talking and networking with people

Look for relevant internships and shadowing opportunities

This could be a vital part of your future career, as finding the right internship opportunities (either during the summer months or straight out of university) is where you can get real-life, hands-on experience in specific industries that you are interested in.

Not only does this provide you with some answers and a clearer pathway to move forward, but it also gives you an excellent chance to add to your CV with specific experience in the industry you are trying to break into.

Shadowing on the other hand gives smaller windows of insight into industries and specific job roles, where you can reflect and learn from the experiences of staff members by following (shadowing) them over a short period of time. You get to see how a company functions, as well as test out different job roles and career options.

Two people talking in a professional setting

Set achievable targets

Whatever it is that you decide to do, whether you have a specific career and role in mind or you want to try out a few different things to see what you like, set out some targets for the short and long term that are achievable.

That way, you have access to a clear pathway and results that you can look back on, whether that’s comparing different internship roles you have completed, jobs and graduate schemes that you have applied for as well as extra-curricular activities and part-time job roles that have added to your CV and real-world experience.

Person writing their goals on a paper

Finding the right career is never a straightforward process. There are some people who know exactly what they want to be from a young age, and they can make sure that every qualification, extra-curricular activity, and job experience is geared towards this intended career.

Other people, find the right career by accident, and others come to their chosen career in many unique ways that might not make much sense on the face of it.

We hope we’ve helped you out with this guide. There is no right or wrong answer, but if there is a career you want to aim for, there are certainly actions you can take, positive habits to build on, and approaches to help give yourself the best chance in finding your perfect career.

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