Leaving Cert students will shortly be faced with an important decision with regard to their choice of Third Level courses.As a career coach, I see the two fundamental questions as:
What kind of career do you want?
What course will provide the pathway to your dream future?
I have put together my top tips that may be of help and guidance to students in making this important decision.
Invest quality time and energy into the process of finding the answers to those two fundamental questions. You must create the space for yourself - time to think - access that wisdom that is within yourself. First, commit to the process. The outcome will take care of itself. Start writing down your thoughts and insights as you build up your research.
Sharpen your self-awareness. Finding a suitable career is governed by our career drivers - those inbuilt motivators or drivers that govern the way we act and feel. What are your career drivers?
Be your own coach. Ask yourself the important questions. What do I want? What are my career options? What do I love doing? What do I excel at? What gets me results? What is it about a particular course/career that I would love?
Study your role models? What three people have influenced you most and why. Our role models often reflect our beliefs and values. This may provide valuable clues into what you want and can be a significant influencer in your career decisions.
Mobilise your support network. Talk to the important people in your life – your parents, your Career Guidance Teacher, a trusted friend. This can be powerful in two ways. Firstly, you will give you another perspective. In addition, the quality of your own thinking increases significantly when you tell your thoughts to those special people.
Examine your Career Options. When you have narrowed down options, study what it is it about your selected course or career that draws you. You are more likely we are to see what you truly want. Keep your mind open to new possibilities – don’t narrow down too quickly.
Be agile in making your choice. Be ambitious but realistic . Have a carefully considered fall back choices. Choose a course that is broad enough to allow you multiple career options – you can always specialise later.
Set SMART Goals. Once you set out your vision for what do you want in your course / career, it is vital to have discipline to make it happen. Setting challenging but realistic goals will enable you turn your plans into reality.
Control your emotions. Don’t let negative emotions gain a foothold. Watch your self-talk. Your choice of how you talk to yourself allows you to reframe your perception of a particular situation from one of anxiety to one where you feel excited and looking forward to the particular challenge.
Protect your health and wellbeing. Two of the most important things to get you through a stressful time are the foods you are eating and the amount of sleep you are getting. A good night’s sleep (aim for 8 hours) makes the world of difference to your mood and mental health as well as your focus during the day. Spending 24/7 studying is not going to do you any favours, so make sure you are taking time to do things you enjoy. Read a book, go for a walk (fresh air is always good), listen to music, spend time with your friends – whatever you love doing in your spare time that truly makes you feel good. Taking this time out for yourself will help you to feel more focused during the time you are studying as you know some “me time” is on the horizon.
Know your self -worth. Remember that your worth is not measured by the amount of work you do or some marks on a piece of paper. You can only do your best and at the end of the day, as overwhelming as they can be, exams are not the be all and end all. There is so much more to you as a person than the results you get. Be kind to yourself and proud of yourself.