Last Friday, I went to my third School of Life workshop. I’ve been to two so far, the How to be Creative Workshop and the How to Have a Better Conversation Workshop. They were the first two I signed up for when the class listings came out. I also had my eye on several other workshops but I decided to wait and see how I found the first two as at $70 a pop, the classes can be a bit pricey. But I had such a good time at the first two classes that when the new class lists came out, I decided to take one final class – the How to Find a Job You Love workshop.
I went to the first two classes on my own but with this one, I brought a friend who was also looking for some guidance on career direction. The workshop itself was pretty interesting and did offer some food for thought on career direction, but on the whole I thought it mainly just reaffirmed a lot of thoughts I had about where I wanted to go next with my career and the steps I could take to achieve this. I thought maybe that was just me as I’ve spent a lot of time this year working on side projects and gathering skills and thinking about what I want to do next, but as I lingered after class to compare notes with my friend and a couple of the other participants, I found that we all were of the same mind – the class had mainly served to reaffirm what we had all been thinking and planning. I guess it would come as no surprise since we wouldn’t have attended the workshop if we hadn’t already been planning and thinking about a career change lately!
My friend and I also agreed that it was nice to have been able to spend the night with likeminded people discussing a common goal we all had in life, which was of course to find a more fulfilling career path, and that to me, has been one of my favourite things about the School of Life so far, the chance it offers me to get out and meet some different, likeminded people, whether it is about being more creative or trying to have a better conversation or find job we’d love.
The workshop covered three areas – how we go about making career choices, discovering what a meaningful job would look like for us, and what steps we can take to make that job a reality. We also had a fun point at the class where we were split off into groups with strangers (if you came with someone, you’re not allowed to be in the same group as them so my friend and I were in two different groups). We were then given a little time each to come up with a list of skills, talents, values and interests – things we’d like to incorporate in our future dream job. We weren’t, however, supposed to say what jobs we’ve had before or what field we’ve worked in previously. After that, we had to show our lists to the other people in our group and they were to come up with specific career suggestions they thought would suit us, according to our list. I thought that was a pretty neat way of finding a career path that would suit us that we might otherwise have never thought of before. Having strangers suggest jobs for us based on our list was also an interesting idea, as they wouldn’t pigeonhole us the same way our families and friends might do!
Later on, some of us were asked to share the answers we had gotten based on our lists. Some people had pretty intriguing, insightful things to say – for example, a girl was told she should be a lyric therapist, a job she never even knew existed until now but which seemed to suit her. Sometimes, the answers didn’t really suit. My friend’s group suggested she could be a teacher which is pretty far from her ideal career. And a woman in my group was strongly suggesting a career option in the country for me. She was pretty strong about it, especially since she’s from the country herself and I didn’t want to object and explain that wouldn’t suit me at all since I’m a true blue city girl at heart, but didn’t want her to take offence! Still, the other remaining girl in our group made a few other suggestions that were more in line with what I was seeking and which I might explore more closely further down the track.
I also thought I’d share some other insights on career guidance that I took away from the workshop, along with some of my own views that I’ve developed along the way this year:
Act, don’t reflect.
This was something our instructor at the workshop advised us to do, and I very much agree with what she has to say. You don’t have to quit your job right away and start looking for a new one. If you’re not entirely sure of what you would like to do next, or if you’re afraid the new field you want to try out might not suit you after all, don’t be afraid to just dip a toe in to test out the water. You could start by volunteering with organisations or companies that interest you in your free time so you could get an idea of just how they work. That way, you can keep your current job and maintain financial stability (after all, everyone has to pay their bills!) as we continue to feel our way to our next career goal.
Progress in small steps: Acknowledge that sometimes we can’t just switch jobs at the snap of the finger. Sometimes it will take a series of small progressions and small steps, feeling our way into our dream job through trial and error and experimenting, rather than jut crying ‘I quit!’ and sliding into a power executive job in our new dream field the very next day.
Network: Get out there and chat with the people who are doing your dream jobs. Ask if you can take them out for coffee and pick their brain. Ask them about the industry and what qualifications are needed. Sound out potential job markets and get a feel for what the roles will really be like.
Acknowledge (and accept) uncertainty: It’s okay to be uncertain of what you want to be at the moment – what’s important is gaining experience in new fields, meeting new people working in the fields you like (yes, it can be multiple fields if you haven’t yet decided what you want to be) and gaining new skills that could help you gain a foothold into new industries
Take stock: Take stock of your skills, values and what you’re really looking for in a new job – then brainstorm using this list to figure out what job you are best suited for. Do some research and talk to other people, asking them for sugestions – you might end up finding out about a job you have never even thought of before.
Upskill: If you feel you don’t have enough qualifications to get in anywhere, then start changing that at once. Take some evening or weekend classes. As mentioned before, offer to volunteer and intern at organisations you’re interested in – you might develop some new skills while you’re at it. If you can’t afford classes, go online – there are loads of free tutorials and courses that might suit you.
I hope that helps!