Are you in your early twenties and still deciding what you do with your life? While staying focused on a single ambition early on can give you a headstart among corporate ranks, there’s nothing wrong taking your time to decide which career is right for you. By Matthew Fam.
There is a rumbling in the air: a brand new wave of people is surging forth into the workforce, like an impending tsunami. Alas, the first batch of post-80’s Millennials are done with university; Facebook feeds are being flooded with graduation gown selfies. And the top remark I hear from most of them?
“I don’t know what I want to do.”
Myself? I have a year till graduation, and- with my devotion of time to studies, copywriting, arts administration, and performing on stage for various young theatre groups- I have too many things to do!
(Before triple somersaulting my way out of the NUS AS5 General Office.)
The fact is, graduates and students alike are facing the same pressure: pool your energy and resources into a set career path for maximum mileage. By principle, you would be able to devote your focus on work at hand, and rise up the ranks faster than someone else who takes her time to decide.
A one-track path to success
This early decision to decide on a set career path does reward people.
A fellow intern at a women’s magazine I used to work for- who has established her passion in journalism and the media industry early on- has landed a full-time stint at another publication since. Similarly, friends who have channelled their time into theatre have been awarded prestigious arts scholarships from government boards to study overseas.
At this point, I’m thinking, “Am I missing out on something??” Is it truly better to stick to a single path since it’s a more convenient route to success?
I’m not saying that it’s wrong to follow through with an early decision. But my contention here is that it shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach for everyone else.
Right now, I would classify myself a closet wanderer. And despite dabbling with various jobs over the past two years, I haven’t made up my mind on what I want to do.
For example, I’m not 100% certain if I will work in a women’s magazine in five years time because of 1) the rapidly changing nature of print publishing, and 2) the long-term prospects of being a male working up the ranks of said publication type in Singapore.
This uncertainty scares me. It almost feels as though I will never be able to live life to the fullest if I keep up with this indecision.
However, for those who wander- fret not. Heed these three pieces of advice, and you have a shot at being just as successful as those who make early decisions.
According to Sarah Robb O’Hagan, President of fitness chain Equinox, “Careers are more like jungle gyms than ladders- sometimes a sideways or backward step can propel you forward.” Likewise, don’t feel limited to stick to a specific career path. Your exploration could reward you with the numerous transferable skills picked up along the way.
Your journey is yours to make, and should not be influenced by another person’s definition of success.
Try being a freelancer first before deciding to go full-time.
Grounding yourself in a desk-bound job straight after graduation can be daunting- especially if you later find out that this isn’t a career you like.
Try freelancing. Take up an internship and (politely!) ask your supervisor if there are opportunities for you to contribute on a part-time basis. Don’t feel as though you need to dive head-first into the corporate jungle. Who knows? You might even enjoy the freedoms afforded by being a full-time freelancer!
Sharpen your skills.
Wandering can be seen to benefit you in more ways than you think. But how can you match up to other people who have been taught skills in their vocation-oriented university course? This is where self-teaching is crucial. You need to do your homework. Be proactive in eating, sleeping, and breathing the very industry you want to try out; talk to people who are already working in them.
That old adage of ‘practice makes perfect’? Your new mantra.
Sure, at some point, a focus on what you want to do would be beneficial (you can’t do 20 things at the same time!), but don’t succumb to the pressure of making that decision right now when you don’t feel ready.
About the Author: Matthew Fam is a contributing writer of Material World, and has worked at Cosmopolitan Singapore as an intern and Contributing Beauty Assistant. He writes, teaches, and performs for the stage. Matthew enjoys museum visits, Singaporean Theatre, and spends too much of his undergraduate allowance on magazines. Follow him on Instagram @mattjfam.
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