5 Common Career Myths 

SPOILER ALERT: Not everyone knows what they want to do when they leave school… 

Whether you’re leaving school soon, starting to think about further education or applying for an apprenticeship or job, chances are, you’re feeling a little bit overwhelmed or confused. By ‘busting’ the five most common career myths, we hope to guide, reassure and comfort you in the decisions you’re making. 

1: “I should know what job I want by now.” 

Some people know exactly what they want to do with their lives from an early age, but many others don’t, and that’s okay. We don’t all find ‘our calling’. Your friend, for example, might have known that they want to be a nurse, ever since they played with a toy medical set as a toddler, and that’s great. They know who they want to be, and they know the path they have to take to make that dream a reality. But it’s equally fine to NOT know what you want to be – we are all individuals, and no two career paths are the same. You might try lots of different jobs or study various topics before settling on ‘the one’. Or you may start a journey on a path to one career then realise it’s not quite right for you. You can always head down a different route. If you’re looking for some guidance or need to find out more about what kind of courses, apprenticeships or work placements are available to you, speak to your guidance or careers advisor at school.  

2: “My potential salary should guide my decisions.” 

While money is, of course, important, it’s not the only factor you should consider when choosing your career. Think about what you’re good at and what you have a passion for. When people engage in work that they genuinely enjoy or find challenging (in an exciting way), they can achieve a lot of job satisfaction because they feel they are in a role where they’re using their skills to their full potential.  

3: “My chosen career should thrill me every day.” 

With that said, even the ‘best’, most fitting job for us can have its down days. There will be times when you might lose interest, or days when you feel bored or frustrated. This is perfectly normal – life is a series of a ups and downs! However, if you’re in a job or studying a course where you feel more down than up, then it could be time to re-evaluate the path you’re on. It may be that you need to reenergise your interest by picking up a new skill or you might want to pivot and start a journey on a new path. Talking to family, friends, fellow students, your boss, teachers, tutors and career advisors can help you make up your mind.   

4: “My guidance teacher knows what’s best for me – it’s their job to steer me on the right path.”  

Guidance teachers and career advisors are invaluable in helping you choose your career path but ultimately, they can only guide you. The final decision is yours and yours alone. They can give you advice, help you find and apply to courses and jobs, but they cannot wave a magic wand and find you your ‘dream’ job. It’s important to do your own research and explore your own options alongside their expert advice to help you find your path. Look up colleges, universities and job sites; explore the recruitment market; speak to people who are taking the course or doing the job you’re thinking about and get their honest feedback; visit any campuses you have an interest in and read up on potential earnings, perks and pitfalls. Once you have a wealth of information from various sources, you’ll feel much more confident in making your choices.  

5: “I need to do a job that’s directly connected to my qualifications/degree.” 

This is one of the biggest myths of all, and the reason many students who have left school, college or university and haven’t managed to land a job that’s directly related to the subjects they’ve been studying for years feel so bereft and lost. The stark reality is that achieving a degree or award in a specialist subject does not guarantee you a job in that field. It is extremely common for people who have a degree to use their learned skills in a completely different area to the one they originally planned for. Remember: your skills and strengths are interchangeable and transferable and can be applied to so many jobs and roles. The world is your oyster! 

Need more support? 

It’s normal to feel anxious about your future but if you’re feeling increasingly stressed about your options, talk to someone about your fears. Childline has a dedicated School and College section (https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/school-college-and-work/school-college/) covering a variety of topics that you may find helpful. You can also talk to a trained counsellor on 0800 11 11 if worries about your future are seriously affecting your mental health. 


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