While growing up I always heard my mum saying how much she suffered at work whenever school fees season knocked at our door. On becoming an adult I realized that people who keep bemoaning their long work days and poor pay are people who do not enjoy their work or people whose careers chose them. There are many great jobs in the world. But there are fewer great jobs that are right for you. Making a good connection between yourself (your values, interests, personality, etc.) and a career can be tough. Especially in this day and age where everyone glorifies currency as the ultimate source of happiness.
For some people heart-to-hearts with a career guidance counselor, mentor or teacher can jumpstart this stage. Permit me to wear one of those hats today and guide you on what I think can help you choose a career you can thrive at.
The first question you have to ask yourself is if the career sounds interesting. You don’t have to be passionately head-over-heels for a career in order to thrive. In fact, following a passion can be a big mistake sometimes, as the numerous one-hit wonders floating around masquerading as musicians can testify. However, a career should genuinely interest you on a gut level. It’s a good sign if you hear about a job and think, “Yeah, tell me more about that!” This will get you up every day with the zeal and determination of a heavyweight boxer who has seen an opportunity for a knock-out.
The other glitch you have to work out is if the career involves work that you could be good at. Many skills can be learned if you commit the time, but pursuing a career that actively goes against your natural tendencies is a giant fail waiting to happen. If you’re an introverted research type of person, don’t force yourself into a sales job—no matter how cool it sounds. Likewise, big-picture people will not find happiness in a tiny-details job. If the work itself does not jell well with your personality or skill set, move on.
This inadvertently also means that the career choice should fulfill your essential needs. What you need from a career can include everything from basic salary and education requirements to more complicated concerns related to disability, family situation, religious beliefs and beyond. Once you’ve nailed down what you want from that job, you can match those needs to career options. For example, if a six-figure income tops your priority list, choose a career where you can make that kind of money. Think science, healthcare, technology, business and avoid lottery industries like filmmaking and fashion design where only a lucky few will strike it rich. As much as many people in the latter fields may not want to hear it, it makes no sense hiding the fact that a few out of thousands hit the jackpot in those careers.
What is arguably the most fulfilling thing about the career you will choose is if the world needs that career. In Uganda, practically speaking, the first thing you need is a job before thinking about the world, it is human nature to be selfish only levels differ. So before diving down a new career path, see if there’s a reasonably good chance someone will hire you at the end of it. Check out employment rates in that career or industry rumours to gauge if your career is in demand because it is then and only then that you will refrain from hating your boss, your colleagues, your family and ultimately yourself.
I really hope I’ve helped you out, now go get that career!