No career ideas? No problem!

jimrealiEntrepreneurship, Final Year, First Year, Further Study, Graduates, International Students, Jim Reali, On Placement, Part-Time Jobs & Volunteering, PostgraduateLeave a Comment

In the last blog, I discussed the different scenarios which face many postgraduates who have recently completed their studies, ranging from “I’m not ready to start thinking about my career yet”, to “I’ve secured an opportunity”.

Ok, so let’s take a little bit of time now to think about a specific situation: specifically, what about those of you who aren’t sure what you want to do for a career? There are lots out there (I was like this when I completed my studies many, many years ago!)

The key message is simple: Keep calm and career plan!

What is career planning?

Career planning is all about getting to know what you want to do for a living and getting you there. Sounds simple, right? Well…

There are four key stages to effective career planning:

  1. Know yourself – what might motivate you in a graduate role and what your values are; what skills and strengths you possess; what interests you, what your work preferences are.

  2. Investigating what opportunities exist which align most with everything you’ve identified in the previous step.

  3. Deciding on a course of action – which career are you most interested in and what are your priorities?

  4. Getting the right role – making a successful application (and also coming up with a ‘plan b’ if things don’t work out as you might wish).

The Careers+Placements team can help you with this! If you need a little assistance, we have the tools to help you online and would be very happy to discuss them further and explain how to use them in an appointment (which you can book on Aston Futures) – whether it’s face-to-face, over the ‘phone or via Skype.

We can also provide you with a career plan document to help you keep track of everything. When it comes to exploring your options, we’re big fans of resources such as the Prospects job profiles (which give you detailed insights into different roles and align them with your attributes to help you see how you may or may not be a good fit) and also LinkedIn – in particular the career destinations which previous Aston graduates have gone into.

Deciding on a course of action can be a little challenging sometimes – especially if you feel that there are just too many options. However, never fear! We have a web page dedicated to decision-making, with a useful tool to help you.

Need help with making applications? Well, you’ll be wanting our CVs, Applications & Interviews page then.


Whilst all this might sound fine, it won’t help if you don’t commit to undertaking some actions – and these need to be SMART. SMART is an acronym:

  • Specific: Well defined, clear, and unambiguous
  • Measurable: With specific criteria that measure your progress towards the accomplishment of the goal
  • Achievable: Attainable and not impossible to achieve
  • Realistic: Within reach, realistic, and relevant to your life purpose
  • Timely: With a clearly defined timeline, including a starting date and a target date. The purpose is to create urgency.

Don’t be too ambitious and say that you can do everything immediately – those sorts of plans often end up with people achieving nothing and feeling demotivated. Instead, define a few small SMART goals and make sure that you give yourself time to undertake them Then, reflect on them once you have: how did you get on and how are your career plans looking now?

What do I need to do?

Ok – here’s a quick review list:

  1. Decide where you are on the career planning diagram
  2. Visit the C+P career planning resources to help you develop your self-awareness and explore options
  3. Set yourself some SMART goals, undertake them and reflect on them
  4. Book an appointment with a Careers Consultant via Aston Futures for further help.

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