Our Career Guidance Editor Roisín Traynor tells us why most students are disillusioned with their career choice - and what they can do to fix it.
Preparing to give a presentation to my students on career choice, I can’t help but think of Larry Smith and his frustration. Larry Smith is a professor of economics at the University of Waterloo in Canada and according to Forbes, he has spent his entire teaching career coaching students to find careers they love, but he still hears excuse after excuse for not following one’s passion.
 
Smith says most people will fail to land a great job or great career because they are afraid to follow their passion.
 
As a guidance counsellor, I feel the same. I feel like I’m on repeat. I hate to be the person to say “it’s that simple”, but you know what, for those who have a ‘great career’ high in their priorities… I honestly think it is.
 
We need to stop going for jobs that we only have a remote interest in or for reasons like pay and pressure from whomever.  And if you’ve already gone through 4 years of college and realise it’s really not what you want to do, or you’re in a job you don’t want to do: that sucks, but go back to college/switch jobs. You don’t have to settle. As much as you don’t want to think about it, you do actually have some control.
 
I’m constantly telling my students to research what’s out there – spend time finding and figuring out your passion.
 
We need to make this career decision process, whatever stage of your life it might be at, a bigger deal. It needs careful attention and informative decision making. If we start giving ourselves time to actually find what we would love to do on a day to day basis, maybe the human race would be happier?
 
Think about how much time you’re going to or are spending at work. Think about how much happier your life could be if you actually enjoy the job. I’m not saying you need to turn into a morning person and hop out of the bed every day buzzing to get to work… it would be nice though, right?
 
Studies show those who have no real care for their job tend to have less of involvement in the job, leading to fewer promotional opportunities, unsatisfactory work environments which can all affect a person’s mental health.
 
The World Happiness Report 2015 says that people are happier in the workplace if they can experience a work/life balance, achievements, leadership, and effective working relationships. But the top of the list was having a sense of purpose.
 
“People are redefining the workplace. Previously we thought work was hell and leisure was great. That is just silly. Work can, and should be, a source of happiness if workplaces are designed right.”
-John Helliwell, Professor of Economics,
The University of British Columbia and co-editor of the World Happiness Report.
 
Designing the workplace right might not fully be in your control. What is, is the design of your career and finding your purpose. Being happy with what you do and having a sense of purpose can actually make you more successful. It gives you a drive. So find it!
 
Larry Smith channelled his emotions into an inspiring, passionate, and humorous TED talk: Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career.
 

 
What is the one thing you want people to know about having a great career?
 
Find and use your passion and you’ll have a great career. Don’t do it, you won’t. It’s as simple as that. People don’t look for their passion because they haven’t tasted it. If you’ve never tasted what it’s like to get up in the morning and be pleased to go to work, you don’t know what you’re missing.
 
Let me play devil’s advocate. I’m passionate about golf but I’ll never be able to make it a great career.
 
Just because you’re passionately interested in something doesn’t mean it has to be your career. You might have to look for more than one passion. Some passions may afford a career and some may not. That doesn’t change the fact that if you love golf passionately you should play whenever you can. You’ll get pleasure out of it and that may be enough.
 
If you need to put a roof over your head and food on the table, then look for another passion. But look for another passion. Don’t look for a regular job and hope that on the weekend you enjoy golf enough to get you through the whole week. Living for the weekend is a grisly thing. I have trouble imagining a life in which you live for the weekend: two of seven days you have a life and the other five days you wait to have a life.
 
We live in a world where people think that finding a passion is so rare that if you find one you’re the luckiest person on the planet and the possibility of finding two is just bizarre. It isn’t. We have multiple passions. Once you taste how sweet it is, you’ll want it more.