No idea about your career? Handy tips to get you started

‘The future depends on what you do today’ – Mahatma Gandhi

Whether you’re in your first year or your final year, it’s never too early or too late to start considering your career options. But instead of trawling through page after page of job sites and waiting for your ideal job to jump out at you, it’s time to take some positive action. Take a look at these tips to get you started on your career journey.

#Tip 1: Re-frame your perspective

Some people know what they want to do from an early age. And that’s great. For them. But if you’re one of the many students who doesn’t know what you want to do, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Advice such as ‘follow your dreams’ and ‘find your passion’ can lead to frustration as you find yourself waiting expectantly for a ‘lightbulb’ moment to happen. The chances are, if it hasn’t happened already, it won’t without help.

So why not take a different perspective. Rather than fixate on how you can shoehorn yourself into a job description, start thinking about your career as the uniqueness you can bring to the world of work. That may sound abstract, but if you can identify your ‘Unique Selling Point – USP’ you can open up a range of career options and approach your career journey with flexibility and fluidity – essential in today’s global job market.


Everyone has a Career USP – you just need to identify yours.

#Tip 2: Getting to know yourself

Choosing a career without knowing the real you is like sticking a pin in a random list of job ads and expecting to find the perfect fit. Understanding your interests, likes and dislikes, and perhaps most importantly – your values – can help you understand what you want from a career.

A fun way to start developing your self-awareness is to take an online quiz. Try these as a starting point:

A word of caution – an online quiz is just one tool you can use to kick-start your thinking and is useful when you take a critical standpoint. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my reaction to the results?
  • How do the results make me feel?
  • I would/wouldn’t like to do that job – why? What am I basing this on?

#Tip 3: Channel your inner detective

Ever fancied yourself as the next Luther/Sherlock/Holly McStay? Well now is the perfect time to hone those detective skills, by noticing those everyday clues which will help you deduce your career interests.

One simple way that some students do this is to make a note of when they felt a sense of flow, when they were fully immersed in the moment. This might be during class, playing a sport or spending time on a hobby. Ask yourself ‘What were you doing? What did you enjoy about it?’

Similarly, note when you felt disconnected to what you were doing. Perhaps you had to do a presentation in class and felt uncomfortable and nervous. Finding out what you don’t want to do is just as important as understanding what you are drawn to.

Noticing these clues will help you generate themes around the types of environments you thrive in, the activities that give you a buzz. You can then test these themes out in real life.

#Tip 4: Take Action…say ‘Yes’ more!

As you begin to develop your self-awareness, it’s important to start taking action to test out your findings. There is no substitute for real world experience, whether this be a volunteering role, part-time work, placement or internship. Work experience is valuable even if it only shows you what you definitely don’t want to do!

One way to get experience is to take advantage of the wide range of support at Hope – from the Service and Leadership Award which encourages you to undertake volunteering during your degree, to our dedicated Placements team who advertise placements and internships here.


These tips can help you build a picture of what you want your career to look like. So the next time someone asks you what you want to do with your life, instead of answering ‘I have no idea’ you can confidently say ‘I’m working on it!’.

Why not book onto the ‘No Idea about a Career’ workshop on Wednesday 30 January at 1-2pm in the Employability Hub. Book your place through My Careers Centre/Events, drop into Careers Express in the Hub on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, or book a 1:1 career consultation by contacting the Careers Team at

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