How to narrow down that career path

As a student, I sometimes feel really stressed about what it is that I want to do later in life. I say this while writing for a newspaper and also undergoing an internship in digital marketing, do I have any idea if I want to work in either of these fields? No is the answer. A very wise and very good friend who does have a few years on me (I don’t like to discriminate on age but, in these cases, I think it is helpful to take advice from someone has had fulfilled their career) once told me that, while I may not know what I will end up doing ultimately in life, at least I can rule out what I don’t want to do.

I worry about this subject a lot, I would love nothing more than to be able to see into the future, see what career path I will end up taking and focus all of my efforts there. My choice to write about this topic is not me ruling out of journalism, or digital marketing, or anything really. It’s just, the more you get talking to people, the more you realise there are so many other opportunities besides the obvious. Nowadays I think we are spoiled for choice when it comes to careers and, rather than celebrating this, I actually find it rather stressful.

The saving grace in this situation is that I know I am not alone in thinking like this. The communication intern at my office and I have kind of become partners in crime when it comes to working. Where my skills of creating aesthetic visuals appealing to a young audience are next to none, hers are amazing. I always try my best to create something that looks good to my eye. However, recently I have started showing them to her before I post them. Each time she just smiles and, with no comment on the actual work, I know she has an idea that will make them amazing.

“Send that to me,” she would say.

I never regret asking her to look over my work. Her eye for matching colours, making text work into a visual and adding just enough components not to overcrowd the picture is just amazing. I know it’s a natural gift that I will never possess but I do not let this bother me. I simply rule out all forms of designing in my mind, reminding myself that at least I can rule out what I don’t want to do. On the other hand, the communication intern could spend days stressing over where to start with writing a press release. This is where I know I can happily step in, having something fairly professional put together in an hour having never attended the event and only needing to ask a few questions to fill in the gaps. In each situation, we would both be at our wits end before asking the other for help.

Creating visuals is her thing, writing is mine. By playing to our strengths, we both learn from each other and get our tasks finished without having a total meltdown.

My fellow intern is an extremely bubbly person, so friendly, caring and just amazing to be around. We get on just as well outside of work than we do within. After work this week, we decided to go for a walk into the city centre. No reason in particular, just to talk and most definitely get hot chocolate (we are both chocoholics), talk about our supervisors, travelling, home and life in general. This time she was a little more quiet than usual and eventually asked for my advice on something. Also nearing the end of her internship, she has no idea what her next steps will be. To go home and start a part-time job, she says, will be a waste of time as she wants to continue travelling. To stay on in her current position also seems pointless because it cannot enhance her CV any further and all her applications for jobs in Brussels have been unsuccessful. She has completed her degree, so unlike me, she is not walking back into the ease of university life. I really felt for her, she asked what I would do, and I honestly didn’t know.

Back to my original point, it is really hard to know what to do in today’s world. I also feel that the labour market is so competitive now that employers want people with an abundance of experience without being willing to give young people the chance to gain this. As my study abroad semester nears in February, the intern taking my place arrived at the office last week. I think he will love the internship, he has lots of experience and is very eager to learn. However, returning to my friend’s advice, I think I can cross out teaching on the list of possible careers. I have put a lot of time and effort into the transition documents, but this teaching business is exhausting. Hats off to all the teachers out there but my short experience in this field has taught me of what I can rule out in life. I really like this way of looking at the situation, you are not wasting your time doing something you don’t want to do but instead ruling out possibilities.

* Gemma Good is from Killeshandra and a third year journalism student in University of Limerick

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