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Job Journeys: How Do You Pick The Right Career Path?

Your degree can open up a whole world of exciting opportunities, but as many of you will know, trying to narrow down a career path is not always an easy task, especially if, like me, your degree offers many different options to consider.

As a music student, who also happens to be very indecisive, it’s been an interesting journey trying to choose a career path.

‌Missed my first article? I’m Hazel, a student currently on the search for her first job. Find out more about my job search journey before you read this article.

Where to start your search?

Narrowing down your career choices can be very daunting, and it’s hard to know where to begin.

Since starting university, I’ve gone back and forth between many different ideas. At first, I was focused on finding a career writing and performing music, but soon realised that there are a lot of other jobs out there that could suit me such as live events, journalism, education, and production.

1. Do your research

I began by researching each field to see the kinds of jobs available and their responsibilities to find out what would be the best fit for me.

Researching companies that offer careers you are interested in and exploring their websites is a great place to start. You can find out more about the positions, and it can help you to see if a job matches what you are looking for.

This also allows you to see which internships or opportunities are currently available, which has been very helpful for me in exploring my options after graduation.

2. Get work experience

Another tool that has really helped me to decide on my career path is finding work experience in each area to see first-hand what it’s really like. My university had a few different activities that were great for this, and I was able to find some on my own too.

My course offered a week-long songwriting exchange to Belgium where I enjoyed creating music and collaborating with other students, which gave me an idea about what aspects of this I would like from a job.

This past summer, I got the opportunity through university to volunteer with DF Concerts — one of Scotland’s biggest music and events promoters — to work behind the scenes at some of their events. It was a fun experience, and I learnt a lot about what goes into organising and running large-scale live events.

I also found jobs available from looking online that involved working as a steward or bar staff for local music events, and I even managed to work with Coldplay’s touring team briefly for their Glasgow events.

These opportunities are great to get the chance to chat with people who work in the roles full time and ask them any questions you have about it. I got to hear what the pros and cons were from their perspective, and what a typical day in the job might look like.

3. Ask your coursemates

The people you’re studying with will probably have plenty of ideas of their own, some of which you may never even have considered. Chat with them about your ideas and potential options.

For example, for a university assignment, I got the chance to be a part of a band with other people on my course, and from this we went on to play local shows around Glasgow and Ayr.

Getting the experience of playing live shows and seeing what is involved in the business side of it was really beneficial for me as I had no experience of this beforehand.

This also helped me to realise I wasn’t very interested in the production side of the music industry, as I got the chance to watch songs being produced for our band but it didn’t interest me as much as I’d previously thought.

4. Trust your passions and interests

I also ruled out education as a career option as after doing some research online, as I didn’t feel it suited what I was looking for from a job and the other career options I’d considered felt more exciting to me.

I’m also interested in music journalism as I’ve always loved writing. After looking online for an opportunity to gain experience in this area, I came across an application on Student Beans who were looking for a student writer for this project, and I was lucky enough to be chosen.

It’s been a great introduction into the world of professional writing, as well as beneficial to experience working to a brief and set timescale.

What are the best ways to narrow down your options?

I think finding work experience in the fields you’re interested in is one of the best ways to find out if a certain career suits you. It gives you a good introduction to it without being tied into something if you decide it’s not for you.

Try reaching out to your university for guidance, or to see if they have any work experience opportunities available. This is where I found most of my work placements, and it has been helpful to get a taste of what each job is like.

Looking online for these can be great too, and if you have a strong idea of what you are looking for already, you could even try reaching out to a company directly to see if they are offering anything that might suit you.

How do you know if it’s the job for you?

Identifying what is most important to you from a job, and using this to fuel your search is the key to finding the perfect role for you. It should be something that you enjoy doing, and that aligns with your strengths and goals.

For example, I want a job that will open up other future opportunities and allow me to progress in my career. I also want a job with variety to it, and if it allows me to travel then that’s a bonus! A lot of music jobs involve working for yourself in some way which is something I like, as it gives me more control over my career direction.

Although I haven’t chosen just one career path to follow yet, I am going to continue my search to find a job that could incorporate parts of all the areas that I’m most interested in.

Job searching can be a long process for most of us, so don’t feel disheartened if you haven’t managed to pinpoint an exact career direction yet. Be open to new opportunities, and if you find a job during your search that makes you excited to apply and get started, it’s likely the right fit for you!

Would you like to boost your career confidence a whole lot more? Check out our Futureproof hub for all things careers.