One of the things you quickly come to realise when you work in careers coaching is that our careers are deeply personal. They are as unique as the rest of our lives and no two people can ever have exactly the same career. Whilst it isn’t hard to understand how our career journeys can deviate from each other, it is harder sometimes to appreciate how our career ideas are also unique.
Some career ideas are more popular than others. This has a lot to do with the cultural capital around different jobs (how they are seen within society), economic trends (what jobs exist at this time) and what jobs are visible in the world right now (you can correlate job desirability with jobs seen on popular TV shows, for example). The popularity of any job rises and falls, but even the most popular job ideas are popular with different people for different reasons. When you tell me about a job idea it is unlikely that it will be the first time I’ve heard someone interested in that job (although it might be!). It will, however, still be a unique career idea. Unique to you; in the way it fits with your life plans, how you intend to get there, why you want to do that particular job, which direction you’re ultimately heading for… and so on.
What this means for you is that whilst other people are great research resources, your own career idea needs to develop personally. It’s no good trying to export it from someone else, because it will lack the context of your life. You can find out the same labour market information as everyone else (how much might you get paid, where the jobs are going to be, what qualifications you’ll need etc.), but that won’t tell you why you want to do that job and if that’s a good enough reason. The information-gathering part of career research is really the smallest part: most of the work comes from thinking. What does this idea mean for you, personally? How would it affect your life? What is motivating you? How much do you really understand about this idea? This is where careers coaching comes in, of course; helping to bridge the gap between the information and your life.
Sometimes I am asked if I get bored with people talking about the same career ideas, but that’s like asking someone if they get bored with films because they’ve been to the cinema before. Every person’s career idea is different because their story is different. We are all telling our own story; starring in our own films. This is the endless fascination of careers coaching for me; not just what are you interested in doing with your life, but why? By sharing your career ideas with me you are telling me a little part of your story. That will never be boring and I will always feel lucky to hear it.