don't know what you want to do

November 30, 2018, by Carla Froggatt

It’s Okay If You Don’t Know What You Want to Do

By Daniel Taylor; fifth year, MEng Mechanical Engineering Student

Everyone always seems to have a plan. When it looks like the people around you have their lives planned out, the future can certainly appear daunting. It’s only now, in the fifth year of my degree, after a lot of help from the Careers team, that I’ve allowed myself to accept that it’s okay that my plan is a lot more ‘flexible’.

When life throws a curve ball

When I was younger I wanted to be a fighter pilot – it was my dream. However, towards the end of my time at school, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness called Crohn’s Disease and that dream disappeared. Unsure what I wanted to do instead, I chose my A-Levels based on what I was good at, hoping I’d get some inspiration as time passed. I certainly didn’t do maths and physics for fun.

Following school, I chose to study engineering. I reasoned that it would provide me with a versatile degree and give me the opportunity to work in almost any industry.

Looking for an opportunity to learn more about the ‘real world’, and to try and find the career for me, I applied to do a placement year. I worked for Network Rail and I am incredibly glad that I decided to take that option. The skills I learned helped me to grow as an individual and I developed a myriad of additional skills that I’d not picked up while studying.

However, I also learned that I really didn’t want to be an engineer.

Instead, somewhat unexpectedly, I found myself wishing I’d chosen to pursue medicine.

Help is out there

It was at this point, when I was really struggling with what I should do, that I contacted Andy from Careers. We talked about my many conflicting thoughts: while I enjoyed my placement and I’d discovered that project management could lead to a rapid career progression, it meant a lot of responsibility and it wasn’t something I was passionate about. The prospect of studying medicine, on the other hand, filled me with enthusiasm. It would be challenging, but it wasn’t a notion I could ignore.

Working with Andy, we started by looking at my values and motivations. I found it stimulating to talk through how I felt. It became apparent that I was looking for a career that would allow me to work with people in a caring environment. It was especially interesting to learn that my ‘unconscious values’ mapped very closely to medicine with altruism identified at the top of the list.

I then took part in a strengths profiling session with Erica, another member of Careers. Together we evaluated my strengths and weakness and it prompted some thought-provoking discussions about my character. I’m a strong believer that you can never seek too much advice; this provided an opportunity to assess my position from a completely different angle.

The future’s bright

I didn’t realise how powerful it can be to talk to different people. I was in an unbelievably confused position and now I feel like I have a handle on my future. I’ve got my heart set on making the switch into medicine, but I now know that have time to do what I need to do.

Talking to Careers is one of the best things I’ve done. With their help, I’ve learned that it’s okay if you don’t know what you want to do.

Are you confused about your career path? If you don’t know what you want to do, book an appointment through MyCareer and let’s have a chat. 

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