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Building Your Career From Scratch

Updated on November 13, 2016

How To Build Your Career From Scratch

It's abundantly clear, to those of us who finished school and are trying to make it in the working world, what we could have done better to give ourselves a hand in our current situations. Considering this there is surprisingly little help out there for young people who are wondering what they should study when they go to college. You get swamped with vague drivel about "following your dreams", or "finding yourself" and never really see any practical advice on how to set yourself up for success in the working world.

The keys to success in the working world are based in how you build your education, before and during your career, to benefit your future in the long term.

Start With Something General

This is the single most important rule to follow when you're picking a course of study. If you major in something highly specialized like poetry or music history you'll narrow your options significantly. You need something that you can combine with work experience and any future education to make yourself more marketable. It's important to leave room to specialize as you move forward, so that there's somewhere to go if career plan A falls through. To choose a great educational base think about broad topics and go for something like computer science for IT, English or Communications for writing and office work, or Business for by far the broadest range of options.

Get A Job, Then Specialize

Rather than picking a specific job before you even start your education, specialization is what happens after you've built a base. Often this will be dictated by external factors like your summer jobs or internships that you get while you're in college. These jobs allow you to test out different fields that you could take your career into until you find one that you like.

For example, if you spent your college days working nights in a care home, your business degree would combine spectacularly with some nursing classes or a master's in public health to open the door to into healthcare management or administration positions. Putting together a skill set like this, combined with the experience that led you to that choice puts you in a perfect position to never be out of a job ever again.

The Bigger Picture

The secret to success here is that you're building your career from the bottom up. Specializing too soon means that you have a lot fewer jobs that you can apply for when you finish, which increases your risk of being forced to work in a new, unrelated field. That means you’ll have to start over and learn something new that won’t take full advantage of your previous education. To ensure that you’re getting the most out of your career you’ll want the full force of your previous experience supporting every new step.


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