Louisa on... Five Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Career

Louisa, age 16 from South Ayrshire, and from the #YSHealth Panel, shares her tips on five questions you should ask yourself about your career and how to make the best choices.

It’s coming to that time of year again when we are choosing our subjects for the following year and we’ve teachers, parents and friends on our backs asking the same question.

What do you want to do when you leave school?

For me, my path was obvious - aim for As and go to medical school to become a doctor.

That has always has been the plan, but for some of my friends, they don’t have a scooby what to do and that’s OK! Loads of people get to the end of S6 and still have no idea what they want to do but if you know what questions to ask yourself, the career path becomes clearer. These are my top five questions to ask yourself to help you make your decision.

1. Are you planning to stay on after 5th Year?

Some careers don’t require Advanced Highers and some careers do. Do you need Advanced Highers or want to gain more qualifications? Do you enjoy school? Be honest. I’m not going to lie, I hate school and can’t wait to leave. If you’re like me and don't enjoy school, but have gained the qualifications you need, why not consider your options? You could even continue learning while you work through apprenticeships or college.

2. Are you going to go to Uni, College, into an Apprenticeship or take a gap year?

University or college normally seems like an obvious choice, but some people might not enjoy the pressure and the feeling of still being at school. Apprenticeships allow you to learn on the job and gain experience in the world of work. It's more hands-on, and I’m not saying universities and colleges aren’t hands-on as some courses do offer that experience, but if working is what you want to do maybe think about a Modern Apprenticeship. Gap years are also another option. We attend school throughout childhood, and maybe you want to explore the world you live in first to figure out what you enjoy or what you're good at, before you commit to something. It can also open your eyes to new careers you never even thought of and give you inspiration as well.

3. What is your favourite subject?

Your favourite subject is normally the really obvious question to ask yourself. You probably want to do something you enjoy for work and not focus on a subject you don't like. For me, I couldn't stand doing a job that means using what we learn in English all the time, writing essays, or doing RUAE (Reading for Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation) every day - but you could love English and want to do it as part of your job. Everyone enjoys different things. That’s why everyone isn’t working in the same job!

4. What do you enjoy doing outside of school?

Looking at your hobbies and interests also might help you to gain an idea of what you want to do. If you love drawing then maybe you want to pursue a career in creative arts? If you love writing stories then maybe something in publishing is for you! Sometimes what you do outside of school might be something you want to keep as your hobby and distraction from your career, but it can also help you realise skills and find career paths you would really enjoy to pursue.

5. Do you want a sit-down job or an on-the-go job?

If you're anything like me, you love being busy and on the go. I wouldn’t be able to sit down at a desk all day and work. I would get bored quite easily! But again, you could be the polar opposite and prefer a sit-down desk job. Or you could enjoy a bit of both. Not all jobs require being in an office at a desk, and it’s important to remember that.

There are millions of jobs to choose from and one of them might jump out at you like it did for me or none of them could. Everyone has something and everyone is different.

I know someone who had no idea what they wanted to do when they left school and studied fitness, health and exercise then realised it wasn’t what they wanted to do so they eventually left the course and joined work as a joiner on a building site - which is quite a different job! They then applied for university knowing they enjoyed construction and now they have a job as a Chartered Building Surveyor. This person could’ve simply stayed on the course of fitness and health and not really enjoyed it, but they made the decision to find something they would enjoy.

It's not always easy to change paths, but staying on a path that isn't for you might have other effects on your health and motivation. Try to find something you enjoy and brings you happiness! I hope these questions will help you on your career path and remember there is always more than one path to try.

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.