How to find the right career path for you

Navigating the labour market when you’re about to graduate can be like navigating an unknown city. Many are unsure about what direction to take. Luckily, Sanne, IDAs advisor, has a couple of advice for you on how to find the right career path on the job market map.

About to graduate

Which direction am I headed?

Am I someone who thrives in a hectic environment, or do I like to have time to immerse myself in tasks? Should I care about the content I’m working on or is the process more important? And what am I best at?

The answer to such questions and the transition from student life to working life can be very challenging for many new graduates. However, according to Sanne Mattebjerg, a career consultant at IDA, the most important thing is not to find a company you want to work in, but to clarify your competences and what you like to do.

Sort out your competencies

”Basically, it’s about making what we call a competence assessment. You simply identify all the things you’ve learned during your studies, working as a volunteer, in your student job, in your internship – anywhere,” Sanne Mattebjerg says.

She goes on to explain that it is important to include everything, because there is likely to be aspects of your non-study-related jobs you liked and were good at, and this may give you an idea of what kind of work you want now.

“Think of your competences as a job wardrobe, with all the competences you can wear to suit your job. Perhaps the wardrobe is a mess, and some very nice clothes are in a box you don’t think is important. But you have to go through it all. Try it all on. And once you know exactly what you’ve got in your wardrobe, you can start deciding what you actually like. What gives you energy. And this could very well be customer service, which was your job in a supermarket when you were 18, or being the captain of a volleyball team when you were 22. This is actually the foundation of your job search – finding and identifying all the things you like and are good at, and then finding the types of job where you can use these competences,” says Sanne Mattebjerg.

Video: What are competencies and how do you get an overview of yours?

LinkedIn is your friend

But how do you find out what jobs allow you to use the competences and interests you’ve just identified?
“LinkedIn”, says Sanne Mattebjerg LinkedIn is big data on jobs and careers, and just a very simple search stands between you and information that can take you closer to the type of job you should look for, and where it is.

Video: How to use LinkedIn

“LinkedIn consists of people who have put up their profiles with details about their competences and tasks. So, if you’ve found out that you liked your customer service job at the supermarket and you want to focus on chemistry in your first job, you can simply search on LinkedIn for “customer service and chemistry” and add your degree to your search.

This will give you a list of people who have both customer service and chemical engineer as part of their profile,” says Sanne Mattebjerg and continues:
“You can then explore the people on the list and see what they do in their job. Where do they work, and what exactly do they do? What companies have they worked for before, and what did they do there? Don’t only look at their titles: look at what they actually do. This will give you a good idea about what people with the same competences and interests as you do, and what you yourself find interesting,” says Sanne Mattebjerg and stresses that there is no harm in contacting the most relevant people on the list.

“Reach out to some of those you find most interesting. Establishing a network is essential, and it’s not only about finding job opportunities, it’s also about gathering information and insight from experienced professionals.”


Student jobs, internships and thesis collaborations

LinkedIn is not the solution to everything though. Much of what will bring you closer to finding out what you want and then actually getting a job happens while you are still a student.

“A study-relevant job, an internship or collaboration with a company regarding your thesis can get you much closer to what you want to work with, and to how you want to work. For example, things that were fun on your studies can be very boring in real life and vice versa. You won’t know before you’ve tried. Therefore, I always recommend that you do as many things you can, while still studying. Even though it’s important to find out about what direction you want to go, it’s just as important to find out what kind of work you like. And a student job is your first experience of what it means to go to work and have colleagues, and how to navigate in this”, says Sanne Mattebjerg and explains that the way you work in a company may vary a lot, and therefore it is important to find out how you like to work.

“It’s like a buffet. You see a table full of all sorts of delicacies. And then you try a bit of this and a bit of that. You’re not quite sure what you’re eating, but you mix what looks good. But the next time you go to the buffet, you only choose what you liked the first time. And then perhaps something new. A student job or an internship is a really good way to try the buffet before you decide whether you like a hectic work environment, whether you like working alone, whether you prefer freedom to decide for yourself, or whether you like to check in with your boss. And it’s also much easier to get a job if you have a little experience and already know people in the industry. This is important to keep in mind.”


5 tips on finding the right career path

Identify your competences

Explore your job wardrobe of competences, both from your studies and from previous jobs. Identify everything you have learned, even the smallest competences may reveal your preferences and interests.

Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn is your job and career treasure chest of information. Search for combinations of interests and competences to find people working in areas you’re interested in and see what they do.

Use a network

Build connections and reach out to people who share your interests. It’s not just about job opportunities, it’s also about obtaining valuable insight and information from experienced professionals.

Make use of student jobs and internships

Practical experience is crucial to finding out what you like. A study-relevant job, an internship or collaboration on your thesis can give you a better idea of direction as well as working style.

Try the whole buffet first

Before choosing your career path, try different directions through student jobs or internships. This is a way to find out whether you prefer to work fast or in-depth, alone or in teams, and it helps you to map out what you want in your future job.

Need help figuring out the right career path for you?