You’re serious about finding the career that suits you best. That’s why you’ve been reading these careering blogs. Among other topics, you’ve learned how to land a summer job and why first jobs, including fast food restaurant work, will help you in your future career. I’m hoping that what you’ve read so far will give you a serious edge in your careering adventure.
So I would be remiss if I didn’t write a blog to encourage you to keep a journal about your experiences. It’s an important tool that can help you find the right career for you. In fact, I call it a careering journal.
Your careering journal can help you answer many questions about your journey, including questions about your work likes and dislikes; what you do best at work; areas where you can improve; work goals you would like to achieve; and many other topics.
In this blog, we’ll focus on helping you learn how to use your journal. To get you started, we’ll use an example of how to identify your work likes and dislikes in one of your first jobs. This example will show you how you may want to think about and address other careering questions in your journal.
Answer these questions in your careering journal:
- What do I like most about performing this job?
- What do I like least about performing this job?
I say “performing” because that’s the aspect of the job you should focus on—not whether you like or dislike your boss or the color of your uniform. In general, questions you answer or topics you reflect on in your careering journal should center on big-picture ideas. This is the most effective way to use the journal to identify the right career.
For our work likes and dislikes example, focus on what your job requires you to do and how it requires you to do it. For instance, if you know you have a hard deadline to meet most every work shift, do you get a rush from the speed with which you must work to meet that deadline? Or do you dread coming into work because you don’t like the pressure-cooker atmosphere?
If your job requires you to interact with many people, do you love going into work every day knowing that you may meet a new person? Or do you dislike constantly talking to people and wish you could simply work at a desk in a corner?
As you write down what you like most and least about the job you’re performing, also write down why you like or dislike it. For example, if you don’t like the deadline-driven workplace, why do you dislike it? Answer questions like these:
- Does having to meet hard deadlines every day fill me with anxiety?
- Does my work performance suffer when I work under extreme pressure?
- Do I prefer to leisurely perform tasks so that I can fully enjoy the work process?
In your journal, if you like deadline-driven work, ask yourself why.
- Do I get a heady rush from meeting constant deadlines because I’m naturally competitive and love constant challenges?
- Do I work best on deadline because it makes me focus, eliminate distractions, and produce my best work?
- Do I like this type of work because I prefer to complete tasks quickly and move on to the next assignment?
In your careering journal, you will generally focus on what, why, and how concerns. For instance, the journal keeper may have liked constant deadline-driven assignments because he or she got a rush from the challenge of doing a job quickly. What did they like about the job? Deadline-driven work. Why? They loved the challenge of the job because of HOW it made them feel: exhilarated.
Whether your questions concern deadline-driven work, work that requires interacting directly with many people or a few, or other situations, a journal will help you discover that why you like or dislike a certain type of work rests on the same reasons: how performing tasks makes you feel; whether you perform well within the job’s business model; and how quickly you like to complete your work, among other reasons.
As you write this information in your journal about your likes and dislikes, you will likely see patterns emerge that paint a picture about a career path that may be best for you to follow. Patterns will emerge as you address other career questions in this journal too.
Having your answers in a journal that you can refer to over and over will provide you the backup you need to move in the right direction. Understanding your answers early on will give you a head start in selecting the career that best fits you—and in avoiding a career path that you may be destined to dislike.
If you haven’t already, start journaling. It’s another way to do careering!