Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.
We asked Mary Ita Heffernan from Health Service Executive to give some advice for people considering this job:
Whilst in secondary school, I changed my mind many a time regarding the career path I wanted to pursue! I always knew that I wanted to work with people but was unsure about the profession which would most suit my interests and skills in this regard.
While in school, I definitely found that being unsure about the type or area of work you want to pursue is a very difficult and confusing position to be in, especially given the array of career choices now available and the pressure one feels in trying to make one’s mind up.
To this end, I would strongly advise anybody in this position to research courses and job descriptions well in order to make the most informed decision possible at that time in your life.
I recommend one tries to gain as much work experience as possible as it will provide you with valuable insight into your skills, ability, likes/dislikes for certain areas of employment!!!!
Also I would research the courses and job areas as much as possible so that you can make an informed decision regarding your choices. If you can't gain enough information in school, contact the college directly or arrange to talk to somebody who facilitates the course. In particular, it would be really valuable to talk to somebody in the profession to gain a realistic and practical insight into the job.
What are your interests?
The Social person's interests focus on some aspect of those people in their environment. In all cases the social person enjoys the personal contact of other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.
Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people, and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
It’s never easy to make a decision about something when you don’t have all the information that is needed, and the consequence of your decision can affect your life for better or worse! This is particularly true when it comes to career decisions. The best decisions are usually made when you are well informed of the options available and the decision just feels right. It’s relatively easy to explore the available options – this requires some research, but it is often more difficult to act on what feels right. This is because most people are not confident about acting on their feelings.
Consider any two people who find themselves in a similar situation and have to make a choice about their career. All their career research reveals that both have equal opportunities available, so reason would suggest that both should make the same decision. But they are different people, who feel differently about the world. Their decision must take into consideration their personal characteristics for the decision to feel right. Knowing what you feel and care about matters a lot when it comes to career decisions, which is why the first consideration for any advice offered is a good understanding of who you are.
The Importance of Knowing Yourself
If you already know yourself very well and are confident about making personally satisfying career choices then you may like to skip our section on knowing yourself. For those of us who are less certain or would like to get a different perspective on what our strengths and weaknesses may be, or what motivates us, or what our natural skills may be, then click here.
Once you have a good sense of your interests, personality, values and skills, you will find it easier to recognise career and job opportunities that would be fulfilling for you. Career research is a process of exploring the world of work with the objective of finding an area you would like to invest your future time and energy into in a way that you would find satisfying. Your research should reveal some direction and goals to aspire to. Click here to go to our section on Career Research.
Exploring Education Options
We start our career journey with skills and knowledge we learn during our school years. In the modern world, however, we may need to extend our learning well beyond our school education. Most occupations require very precise and detailed training, and to be able to work in most career areas you will need specialist training. There are many courses available to bring you to the next step in your journey, the difficulty is often choosing one that serves you well for the future. Click here to explore education options.
Growing your Career
For most of your journey you may be employed or actively involved in some activities (volunteering, traveling, parenting / housekeeping also play an important part of many careers). During these periods you will develop new skills and valuable experience. Just because you are ‘settled’ into whatever role you choose doesn’t, however, mean you will remain satisfied indefinitely. There are many ways to maximise your development and growth so as to improve your satisfaction levels for the future. For more information on working and continuous personal development click here.
Changing your Career
If you are considering changing your career the first thing to consider is that you are almost certainly better off planning your career change while still employed - you at least have the financial stability that will give you time to nurture your plan.
Secondly, you need to appreciate your situation - is this need/desire for change based on a 'knowing in your heart' what you want, or a 'yearning in your heart' to find something more satisfying. In the first instance you might be considered fortunate - you know where you are going and your task is to find the route. In the second instance, your task is to explore the route in the hope that it might lead to a satisfying destination. To find out more about changing your job or changing career directionclick here
Looking for Work
At various times during your career journey you will probably need to look for employment. This can be a stressful time and your patience may well be challenged. Understanding the process and knowing where to look can make life that bit easier. Click here for information about Looking for Work.
Work / Life Balance
There may be times when the amount of time and energy used in your work as compared to the rest of your life is causing more stress than you are happy about. This can happen both ways – too much or too little work – either can cause stress for many people. Sometimes it helps to get a different perspective on life and re-arrange your life in accordance to what is important to you. Click here for further information on common Work /Life balance issues.
Because of the important impact career decisions have on the course of our life, many people will avail of the services of professionals qualified in providing career counselling. For those of you who would like the services of professional careers guidance practitioners, you can view a directory of professionals from the Institute of Guidance Counsellors website here.
School and College students can get professional advice from their Guidance Counsellors and Careers Advisors who are freely available in schools and on campuses throughout Ireland. Note that it is up to the individual student to make an appointment to discuss their options.
Getting it Right
Our career is our journey through life, and successes and failures will feature in everyone’s story. Our personal and career lives intertwine, and impact on each other for better or worse. The following video asks 50 people a question about their journey, and brings to mind many of the issues that impact on our career decisions.
Being prepared and equipped for your career journey is essential. No one knows what the future will bring, or what opportunities will be created as technology further impacts on our world. We don’t know how we ourselves will grow and change, or what will interest us in 5 or 10 years’ time. Fortunately, career development specialists in Canada have highlighted five principles they regard as essential to survival in the modern world of work.
Change is Constant
Learning is Lifelong
Focus on the Journey
Access your Allies
Follow your Heart.
These five principles keep us focused on the reality of the world of work alongside our own personal development. Further information on the five principles is available here.