In our previous articles we firstly explored how one could discover more about their future careers through “dating their jobs.” Then we looked at various categories of work and trying to match our interest with what’s out there. However, the previous two articles are not particularly helpful if one does not know of their interests in the first place. In today’s article we will see how we can start discovering our own interest while still in school.
One primary obstacle in making an informed career decision is the lack of knowledge regarding the world-of-work. The average secondary-school student is caught in a situation whereby they are too young to work, thus limiting their exposure. This constrains their experiences to school, tuition, and maybe the odd part-time cashier or promoter job on the side. However, there are many other things you can perform during your early teens to broaden your knowledge about both the world-of-work and yourself so hear me out first.
The opportunity for self-discovery is plentiful regardless of which stage of life you are in. With the job market what it is today, one can move across many different industries with a basic degree in any field. However, deciding to enter a specialist field like accounting, law, or medicine requires the pursuit of a second degree if you do not have one in the required field. Opportunities for self-discovery are also available at a pre-graduate level as many programs offer a variety of elective subjects from other majors to choose from. This allows you to try out psychology while studying for a business degree, for example. However, should you then decide to change majors, it can be financially costly, and there’s also the added time needed to complete the degree. Instead, it might be beneficial to start this process of self-discovery even before one enters into university; while still at secondary school.
According to Erikson’s Psychosocial stages, a teenager finds themselves in a stage of self-searching (Identity vs. Role Confusion). Simply put, during this stage, the individual has an innate urge to discover who they are through any means of exploration available to them. This is an opportune time for the exploration of your own interest as you take advantage of the natural urge for self-discovery.
Secondary school is a good time for self discovery. Most schools typically have extra curricular activities like cooking classes, sports and other events to join. The school schedule also allows free time during week ends or school holidays for volunteer work at charity organizations. The best part about trying these things out now, is that the cost is relatively low. You don’t have the weight of a degree on your shoulders or need to face the wrath of your 3rd boss in two years when you resign after 6 months.
On the other hand, you may be concerned that the limited exposure you have at this stage may not be reflective of the real world of work, and that is a valid point. However, even though some activities appear very different from the real thing, may still be a helpful indicator of how much you’d enjoy them. For example, working at a cashier may seem like a mundane job, but to be a good cashier, you need to be organized, fast, and accurate with your calculations. This reflects somewhat jobs in the Conventional category (explained in the previous article) like administrative roles and event management. Another good way to experience the conventional type of work is being a librarian at the school library. To do the work well, one needs to be organized and be comfortable working within a predetermined system. Similar to the kinds of skills and aptitude that one would need in order to be an accountant.
If one should like to experience entrepreneurial type of work, the debate club may be a good place to test your skills of persuasion. On the other hand team management element can be experienced by entering positions of leadership like prefects or club committees. The social type of work can be tested out in any service oriented event. Or, one could also volunteer to give tuition to weaker classmates. The realistic type for work is found in hands on events, which are predominantly found in a subject called “kemahiran hidup.” As mentioned above, cooking, woodwork, electronics and sports are all Realistic type of work and may indicate how much you like the field.
Investigative, however, is predominantly restricted to the sciences in school. The many experiments you will be doing, although simple, exposes you to a process that hones your critical thinking. These activities involve using observation, following the “bread crumbs” of available information, and then your analytical skills to obtain the next step; skills critical to perform the research-nature of the investigative field. Finally, the artistic type of work can be expense through any activity offering creative expression. Music, drama, arts, craft, all of which can be experienced at secondary school.
Just remember, the point of trying things out at secondary school is to learn about the different aspects of work that you can try to see what you’re both good at, and what you enjoy. Constantly ask yourself questions such as, “can I get better that this?” “How do I like doing it?” And finally “would I enjoy this even if I continue doing it?” In closing, trying things out while in secondary school does have its restrictions. Your exposure may be limited and you may be highly dependent on others. And that is typically what you will face throughout life; challenges and restrictions. Rather than dwell on what you cannot do, try looking out for what you can do. And that starts with joining the fundraising project in school to discover if you like event management.