Your Future Career: Straight Path, or Labyrinth?

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The most underrated horror story is definitely the one where a student starts their post-secondary education and figures out that they absolutely hate the major/program they’re in. A close second to that horror would be the sequel where the student’s younger bro starts school with no idea what he wants to do with the rest of his life.

Ahh, but there’s a happy ending! The career counsellors in the Student Services department at Douglas College are an enormous help with students who are in this ‘stuck’ position. The counsellors host a Career Explorations Workshop every fall and winter semester. They aim to help students connect what they’re interested in to various career options.

I had the pleasure of attending their winter workshop, where my fellow students were looking for answers. Here are some of the questions workshop attendees were asking:

  • “Is this really what I want to be doing?”
  • “What do I want to do for the rest of my life?”
  • “Is there a more stable job out there that I would like?”
  • “I don’t like my program! What do I do now?”

I’m in general studies, working on prerequisites for a medical imaging program at BCIT. When I couldn’t apply for the fall 2016 semester, I panicked because I’ll have to wait another year to apply. The gap in between now and re-applying made me wonder if that was the career I’m still interested in.

The two staff members who ran the workshop understood our questions and concerns, because they could relate. Erin, a counsellor at the college, went from sciences to psychology when she was a student. And Jodi, a practicum student from UBC, also decided the major she started out with wasn’t for her.

The workshop was split into two parts. In part one, participants got to know each other, shared why they were there, and also explored some of their interests. In general, students were stuck, and wanting to get unstuck. In an exercise where we talked about what “Career” means to us, words like passion, lifestyle, and exploration came up. Part one also included the Strong Interest Inventory test, which is a widely used career planning tool.

Part two included an investigation of our individual Strong Interest Inventory test results, which showed us our top 5 interests, and our top 10 career options based on those interests. We discussed why the test may have brought up those career suggestions, and if they would be worth considering.

Throughout the workshop a popular rule of thumb was to do what you love, however through a discussion we also talked about how that may not always be the best advice. Of course you should do something that you enjoy, but a student brought up that people may find their passion outside of their paid work, and so their passion in life doesn’t have to be their job. This can be liberating to people who are worried because they haven’t found their passion just yet. I’ve met many people who are constantly changing careers, and it’s sort of a relief, because if it turns out medical imaging isn’t for me, maybe I could just try something else.

Jodi and Erin advised us that a career is not one straight path; it may as well be a labyrinth. They said that it’s okay to be lost and figuring out who you are and where you want to go.

If you feel like you’re a bit lost, Douglas has so many tools that can help you! If you’re interested in exploring your career options or talking with Jodi or Erin, you should check out the Counseling Services page for more information, and consider booking an appointment for career counseling.

 

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