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Career advice: It's not just what you study

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If you don't know what you want to do for the rest of your life, it's perfectly fine. According to the experts nobody should be expected to make such a monumental decision all at once, least of all matriculants.

If you don't know what you want to do for the rest of your life, it's perfectly fine. According to the experts nobody should be expected to make such a monumental decision all at once, least of all matriculants.

In the video 'UCT - a guide to studying further' careers advisor Ingrid van der Merwe gives matrics some direction as they take their first steps into the unknown.

"The biggest misconception...is that you must make a career choice in matric." This kind of pressure can lead to severe anxiety in young adults.

According to van der Merwe career decisions should be made in small steps. You don't need to have your career plans completely figured out before you choose a study programme.

Students need to understand that career selection "is an ongoing developmental process."

Choosing the right course

Van der Merwe says that graduates often have a literal understanding of what their study programme will entail, which is not always accurate. As a result students who have not done their research could find themselves feeling bored or overwhelmed in class.

She advises students to focus on learning more about their immediate course, rather than trying to map out a lifelong career path.

Everyday is a winding road

An academic course can diverge into a variety of job opportunities that may not be visible at the beginning.

"Many graduates... end up in work that is not always related to the subject matter that they've studied."

In the past students chose their profession first. Today students are preparing for jobs that may not even exist yet. With this reality in mind van der Merwe encourages students to remain flexible at the start of their professional journey.

Focus on learning

"Many of the skills that employers require are actually developed in other parts of your life." For example you may develop skills through a favourite hobby, a personal interest or previous work experience.

Van der Merwe explains that every area of learning contributes to a successful career. Don't underestimate your life experiences and what they can teach you about your ultimate purpose and calling.

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