Graduate looking down

April 12, 2023, by Leah Sharpe

I Don’t Know What I Want To Do

By Christian Warren-Jameson, Senior Careers Adviser

As much as you may feel the odd one out compared to your peers, it’s perfectly okay to get to the end of your studies without knowing what you want to do afterwards; everyone’s career is different and getting clarity comes over time as you explore different options.

In addition to our webpages on Choosing your career, the below activities can help anyone in this situation. 

What motivates me?

Edgar Schein, a professor of organisational development, identified eight career ‘anchors’ that reflect what motivates people at work. Typically, people have two to three main ones. Use the list below to reflect on what yours might be:

  1. Being valued for your expertise
  2. Leading others
  3. Security and stability
  4. Using your skills to create something new
  5. Autonomy and independence
  6. Dedication to a cause
  7. Lifestyle
  8. Solving difficult challenges

Your personal job satisfaction model 

Research into job satisfaction highlights key factors that contribute to our happiness at work, but how this looks in practise is unique to each of us.

Think about experiences you’ve had in education, employment, volunteering, etc, to give you a reference point for identifying how the below factors work for you personally. For example, when have you felt totally engaged in an activity? When did something not feel like work because you enjoyed doing it? And the alternative, for example, when did something feel like it drained your energy?

  1. Task variety
  2. Colleagues
  3. Working conditions (both physical conditions and the ethos of the organisation)
  4. Workload
  5. Autonomy
  6. Fit – your strengths, your values, and is it consistent with your identify, i.e., can you see yourself working there?

You may find that some of these factors are more or less important to you, but it’s good to consider all of them. 

What job would suit me?

Now you have your list of criteria, it’s useful to rank these in order of importance as this will make it easier to compare options.

From here you can look at different careers and mark them against your criteria. 

Career capital

For your first job after graduation, it’s important to consider options that give you a good platform to develop for the rest of your career. This is known as career capital. 

When looking at options, think about:

  1. What types of projects will I work on?
  2. What skills will I develop?
  3. What people will I meet and work with? 
  4. What level of financial flexibility will this give me if something went wrong or I needed to change career path?

Final thoughts

Remember you can book an appointment with Careers at any point to get help with choosing your career, including after graduation. 


Posted in Careers AdviceChoosing Your CareerGraduating in 2023