Where can I find help to plan my career?

Young female employee
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/lisafx

Dear Working Wise:

I’m 20 years old and I haven’t figured out what I want to do with the rest of my life. I can’t think of any careers that excite me and I’m worried about not being any further ahead after spending four years in university. Where can I get the answers I need?

Signed Frustrated and Future-less

Dear Frustrated:

Most of us don’t know what our forever career will be when we are twenty—and research shows that few of us have a career that we stick with until retirement.

The work world is a bit mysterious to those looking in from the outside — most jobs are not represented at career days — and it is not always clear how you can break into a specific field.

Many people train for one career and end up falling into a number of different jobs as time goes on. Even if you find work in a career that you trained for, jobs tend to change—your interests and goals change too.

What I can tell you is that the majority of future jobs in Alberta will require some sort of post secondary training or education.

And, that any education or experience you gain today will serve you well in the future.

An architect can draw on his past experience as a waiter when he designs a new restaurant. And a project manager can draw on her English degree when she’s writing proposals.

You might want to try the free CAREERinsite website to help you discover exciting careers you never knew existed.

CAREERinsite uses questionnaires and journaling tools to help you determine a career focus and life goals. It’s comprehensive and once you create an account it saves your progress, career searches and goals. You can come back and access it for up to five years later to help track your progress. Check it out at: http://careerinsite.alberta.ca.

Once you have a short-list of potential careers, you can use the nearly 200 Occupational Videos on the Alberta Learning Information Service web site http://alis.alberta.ca to see which career excites you most.

The videos are a great research tool, because they focus on someone who actually works in the occupation. The video shows them in their workplace, and lets them explain in their own words what they like and find challenging about their job.

You can also use the Occupational Info (OccInfo) database to research more than 500 careers. OccInfo includes important details about careers including: duties, working conditions, salaries, advancement opportunities and educational qualifications. OccInfo also includes a new section on emerging careers. Check it out at: http://alis.alberta.ca/occinfo.

Finally, you can narrow down your short-list even further and ensure you make a smart investment in your education by checking the anticipated future demand for your career ideas. You don’t want to train for a career that is in decline. Alberta’s Occupational Demand and Supply Outlook, 2013-2023, forecasts the supply vs. demand for nearly 300 careers, 10 years into the future, at: http://work.alberta.ca.

Good luck!

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.