Ellie on... Choosing the Right Career for You

Ellie, age 21 from Edinburgh, and from the Young Scot Content Collaborators Panel, shares her tips on choosing your career, what options there are and when to start thinking about your future.

Trying to decide what career you want to go into seems like a decision that has to be made earlier every year.

Subject Choices

Going into your Higher’s means choosing your subjects, a decision that might be influenced by what you already want to go into. For example, wanting to become a doctor or lawyer might influence your decision. But once you have to start thinking about what to do after school, college or university, it can become quite confusing!

There seems to be so many career options out there, but not a lot of opportunities to try them in that crucial moment.

When deciding on what subjects to choose at Higher level, unless you're going down a specific degree path in order to go into a specialised career, I think the most important thing to focus on are subjects that you enjoy. Try not to worry too much about what career you want to go into yet, the next thing to think about might be whether university or an apprenticeship is the best route for you.

Modern Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships can be great for those who want to get working right away, know what career path you want to go down, or don’t like the thought of university but still want to work towards nationally-recognised qualifications.

You get paid whilst you work, and there are different levels of apprenticeships depending on what type of qualification you want to work towards. If you’re considering a career in finance, accounting, engineering and marketing, among many others, then doing an apprenticeship may be for you.

University

If you decide that university is for you, you might be worried that your degree will affect what career you can go into. And whilst that is true to a certain extent, as some careers will require a specialised course such as dentistry, or veterinary sciences, there are many that this doesn’t apply to.

For example, if you decide you want to study geography at university, but midway through you realise you want to have a career in law after you graduate, you can still do that. Many careers require you to take further qualifications after university and you can take these on regardless of your first degree.

And even if you’re not sure what you want to study at university, my advice would be to pick something that you have an interest in, or already enjoy. When I started university I chose Ancient History because I loved studying Classics at college, but wasn’t sure what I wanted a career in.

Over the next two years I changed what I wanted my career to be so many times. The only way I finally found something I’m passionate about turning into a career, was through experience and trying out new things.

University is a great opportunity to try lots of new things, especially through extra-curriculars and societies. These allow you to take on different responsibilities in sectors you might not even know existed! Applying to be on the committee of a society is a great way to do this, and lets you take on different roles such as being a president, being in charge of marketing, social media and communications, accounting, and many more!

Work Experience

Another great way to try different career options is through work experience and internships.

These allow you to get a deeper and more hands-on understanding of a career and what it would involve. There are many internships that are open year-round, although the majority operate throughout June. You often don’t need to be studying that subject, so you can apply to any you think would be interesting.

Whether you know what sector you want to go into, or have no idea, there is always time to take further study, volunteering or internship opportunities in order to get to your goal. The best advice is to try as much as you can, and you might find yourself on a career path you didn’t even know existed!

Find out more about careers on Skills Development Scotland's website.

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Young Scot supports young people to share their own voices, views and opinions and works with partner organisations and professionals who are experts in different topics. The views expressed in this blog are those of the young people, organisations and/or individuals who have taken part in the blog, not necessarily the views of Young Scot.