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4 Things You Should Keep In Mind When Deciding On Your Career Path

by Tiffany Tham. |

Congratulations on your graduation!

Now onwards to the next adventure: Finding and securing a job and eventually a career path that you will embark on throughout your adulthood.

It does sound daunting, doesn’t it? Don’t fret just yet, here are two secrets you must know about this predicament: 1. no one, not even the ‘proper’ adults, really know what they are doing, so you are not alone in this journey, and 2. nothing is set in stones, that is to say, you can try and try again before settling on something you would like to dedicate your time to, and even then, you can still make as many adjustments as you wish to make things better at any given moment. Keeping in mind the wise words of Newt Scamander, “worrying means you suffer twice”, we will just have to move forward every single day (baby steps!) while armed with knowledge and survival skills and see how the future will unfold for us.

First things first: The difference between a job and a career.

In deciding a career path, it is vital to first understand how a career is different from a job. The difference is that a job provides you with a paycheck whereas a career is a series of experiences that help you achieve a specific goal.

So, what are the things you should consider when choosing a career path? Get a pen and a notebook and we shall get started.


This is straightforward— what do you like doing? List down 3 things that you are enthusiastic about in your notebook right now. Here is mine:

  • Reading

  • Poetry-writing

  • Photography

Interest is a crucial element in a career search. Your interests will get you out of bed on Monday mornings and keep you going when the work gets tough (and it will get tough). Your interests will also keep you motivated and passionate enough to get the work done when things get boring, dull, and mundane. More importantly, your interests will drive you in advancing and developing your skillsets to move you along your desired career path.


Don’t be modest now: what are you good at? What have you achieved? What are your academic qualifications? Write down your top 3 skillsets. For example, here is mine:

  • Teaching (graduated with a MA in TESOL)

  • Writing (creative pieces were published in various publications)

  • Successfully organised various big-scale creative events in university (an art exhibition, a drama/play, a multi-cultural festival)

Skillsets are important, of course, because they will get you the interview and through the (office) door. Besides, you would also want to be reasonably good at your entry-level job role. However, the world is not ideal, and you may sometimes find that the learning curve is steep, but don’t worry, with the essential skillsets and correct mindset nailed down, you will be able to pick up new skills fairly quickly and you will be less stressed and anxious on the job too.

With both the ‘interest’ and ‘skillset’ lists in your notebook, do you see any correlations?

Based on my lists, ‘writing’ stands out to me—I am interested in and good at writing. Hence, ‘writing’ will be a top priority when I decide on my career path, amongst my other interests and skillsets. As we go through this article, you will find more correlations popping up, hang tight!

Personality Traits

Don’t go having an identity crisis now but who do you think you are as a person? List down 3 of your characteristics. To further help you with this big question, feel free to check out various personality tests, such as the MBTI, Enneagram, Big Five personality test, Holland Code test, etc. I think I am:

  • An introvert

  • An Idealist (and would love to change the world)

  • An empath

Personality traits are your core values as a person and your career should, to a certain degree, resonate with your characteristics. Your day-to-day job should make you relatively calm and happy, amid the inevitable stress. To achieve this, you should feel you fit into the job role and the working culture/environment. Do not force-fit yourself into a role that you will come to resent in a month, thus keep your personality traits in mind during your career search. Fun fact: some companies do ask you to take a personality test during the shortlisting process, so you can see how important personality traits are!

Personal Goals

And now we are getting more personal: what are your goals in life? Put them down in your notebook. Here are some of mine:

  • Financial goals: to have an emergency fund, a retirement plan, and an investment portfolio

  • Lifestyle: modest but comfortable

  • To travel around the world, backpacking style

A career is a huge part of our lives, hence it is always recommended to align your career path with your personal goals. These goals should be as realistic as possible, taking into account your current and immediate circumstances, commitments, and responsibilities. The number one objective of us working is to earn a living and thus will the career you have chosen support the lifestyle you desire?

Taking these four aspects into consideration, can you guess which career path I have settled on?

I have decided to work in an educational publishing house as an editor. This job role plays to my strength and interest in writing and teaching, appeals to my introverted and idealistic self and pave the way for my desired modest but comfortable lifestyle. What will your career path be, my friend? Now that you are armed with a career path ‘template’, I urge you to explore and experience new things, dream big and reach for the stars. The world is yours for the taking. Best of luck!

You can learn more about the writer on Instagram.

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