“How Will I Know When I’ve Found The Right Career?”

Jessica's spent years experimenting with different jobs and industries. Armed with experience, she thinks she's finally hit on a career she'll love. But with time and money running out, how can she be sure this experiment will lead to a job she wants to keep?

What's your career history and current job?

I'm working a series of freelance jobs currently, in writing and administration for online communities.

I've worked in various sales and marketing roles for lots of different companies, including government, small businesses, not-for-profits, schools, and larger corporate organisations.

I've never stayed in any job for longer than three years, which is why I've got such a chequered history.

Most recently, I was working as a sales manager in the food industry.

How do you feel about your work?

I start every new job feeling positive and hopeful.

But before long, I run out of opportunities for growth that align with where I want my career to go and get disillusioned with my work.

I enjoyed aspects of my most recent role.

It was in a smaller company where everybody knows each other, and I love working closely and collaborating with different people. Working in the food industry appealed to me, too.

But the food industry is reactive and I found that I had no control over my day-to-day work. It felt impossible to do my job because the company couldn't decide a direction.

Instead of doing meaningful work that moved the company forwards, I spent my days in reactive mode, putting out fires here, there, and everywhere. I'd come home feeling tired, but with no real result or reward to show for it.

The opportunity for more responsibility presented itself, but I knew it meant longer hours and I was already so unhappy that I decided to leave.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I love helping people to learn something new and achieve their goals.

Looking back over my career and teaching experience, I've always gravitated towards training new starters and colleagues whenever the opportunity came up.

From that, I've worked out that my ideal next move would be into training and development, working either for myself, or for a small, informally run company in which I could make a meaningful impact.

I've been writing articles about the practical experiences I've gained throughout my career, in the hope that this will lead me towards the right kind of work.

I know that there are lots of fields to choose from within training and development, such as content design, course delivery, and helping to develop learning theory.

But I don't have enough experience to feel confident about investing in a professional qualification.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

Right now, I feel strongly that training and development is the right move for me, but what if it's not?

My career history shows that I've been misguided on the work structure and type of work I like lots of times in the past, even though I always make an effort to research new fields of work before I start them.

All that has made me lose faith in finding just one job that's fulfilling enough to stay at long-term.

The more I think about my next move, the more confused I feel.

I'm doing some short-term contracting roles, but I'm not sure if this is helping me to gain the right experience. However useful experimenting has been for me in the past, I'm not getting any younger, and I can't afford to keep jumping around.

How will I know for certain that I've found a career I can stick with for the long-term?

Can you help Jessica?
  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How do you think Jessica could move her shift forwards?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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