I am confused about what I want to do as a career. Where do I start?

FAQ: I am confused about what I want to do as a career. Where do I start?

Choosing a career is not one decision – it is a lot of little decisions as you find you like some things and dislike others. It takes time to research and can be confusing and frustrating sometimes, but also exciting and fascinating. You will enjoy the journey if you set your mind to it!

TIP: Make a project out of it, with a special notebook and folder for pamphlets. If you have regular access to a computer, create electronic folders and store information like documents and pdfs.

STEP ONE: Know yourself

Finding out where YOU fit in the world of work starts with knowing everything about YOU. Later you can match that information with what you learn about the world of work.

STEP ONE: Know yourself!

  • What do you enjoy doing? Find 5 things.
  • In what way are you different from other people? (Ask others – you may be surprised!)
  • What are you good at? (Sometimes we do something with very little effort and we don’t appreciate our strengths. We don’t realise that other people are not as capable as we are in that area.)
  • What are your personal achievements and successes? List at least 5, even if they seem small.
  • What interests you? (At home or school or elsewhere? Hobbies, Extra mural)

Here is a list of questions you could ask yourself, but it is not a complete list. Use your own life to discover some other questions and answers.


  • What are the qualities that make you who you are? Are you caring, patient, impatient, hardworking, friendly, resourceful, pro-active, obedient, self-disciplined, shy, impulsive, adaptable, systematic, open to new ideas?
  • Are you a leader or a follower or a good team worker? Are you a visionary or an implementer?
  • What other qualities can you think of?


  • What interests you? At school and outside of school?
  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • What other interests can you think of?


  • Which are your favourites?
  • Which are you best at?
  • Which would you like to follow and develop further in the career of your choice?
  • What do you enjoy finding out about?


  • Do you like to work on your own?
  • Like to make your own decisions?
  • Take responsibility for yourself and for what you do?


  • Do you get on with others?
  • Can you handle negotiating?
  • Do you tolerate different viewpoints?
  • Like to organise people?
  • Entertain people?


Are you good at/ enjoy

  • researching
  • cataloguing
  • interpreting
  • classifying
  • selecting
  • organising


  • Can you work with different computer programs?
  • Are you keenly interested in learning more about computers or computer programmes?


  • expressing yourself
  • listening
  • writing
  • interpreting
  • criticising constructively
  • debating
  • negotiating
  • explaining
  • entertaining
  • persuading

NUMBER SKILLS. Do you enjoy:

  • counting & measuring
  • estimating
  • calculating

WORKING WITH IDEAS. How good are you at:

  • thinking things out
  • planning
  • creating
  • assessing
  • analysing
  • strategizing
  • evaluating


  • designing
  • making
  • planning
  • controlling
  • fixing

GOALS TO ACHIEVE THROUGH WORK. Which are important to you?

  • job satisfaction
  • money
  • responsibility
  • status
  • secure employment
  • your own business


  • Would you prefer to work for a large organization or a small one?
  • Do you prefer to work outdoors or indoors
  • in an office or in a plant or in a laboratory
  • Any other?

NEEDS. Do you need:

  • security
  • challenges
  • recognition
  • independence or do you need to feel part of a team?
  • to feel you are ‘making a difference’?
  • to feel ‘in charge’ of a team or project or activity?
  • to focus on implementing ideas or projects?
  • to start up new projects?
  • to focus on seeing a particular job or activity through to its conclusion?


  • to earn a lot of money
  • have status
  • work independently
  • help others
  • to constantly learn
  • to enjoy my job

TIP: Remember to note down all the things you have discovered about yourself. That will become a checklist when you take the next step.

STEP TWO: Know the world of work

Gathering information about career possibilities is very exciting. There are many sources of information and methods, and we give you some tips below.

[See below for tips to help you discover what is out there.]

STEP THREE: Decide about your Options

Look through all the information you have collected and narrow down your choices.

[See below for some tips to help you make decisions.]


List the things that need to be done.

These steps may include getting finance or furthering your education.


STEP TWO: Know the World of Work & Training

There are many more career options than most people realise. Go to the SEARCH option on our website and type the word ‘themes‘. Press GO! and it will take you through to a page where you can see the various Industries Click on any of them and they will show you all the Job Descriptions in each industry.

TIP: Note everything you are attracted to and why. Everything you are not attracted to and why.

This is going to take quite some time, so use a computer and an internet connection. (Your local library should offer this facility if you don’t have one at home. Please feel free to contact us if you have problems getting the information you need.)

Looking at the careers you are interested in, you may want to think about whether you like working with THINGS, or INFORMATION or PEOPLE, mostly. A Meteorologist or Bookkeeper deals mainly with INFORMATION whereas a Social Workers works with  PEOPLE in a caring way and a Manager with PEOPLE in a organising way. This is important to match Personality with the career.


At the same time collect training information. Most educational institutions have brochures (prospectuses) about individual courses and the requirements for admission.

We strongly recommend downloading them from websites or going to fetch a printed copy. Because they give you so much more useful information, it is really worth the effort. You also need information about the cost of studying and possible bursaries and/or loans.

It is a good idea to visit the places  where you are thinking of studying and speak to the people in the Career Office.


Try to find opportunities to spend a day or two following someone doing the job you would like to do (Job Shadow) or volunteer in a field where you may want to work. Ask a lot of questions.

STEP THREE: Decide about your Options

You should end up with

  • 5 career options (at least). Rank them from 1-5, depending on which you are most attracted to.
  • All the courses related to these options as well as the requirements for admission. 

You may find yourself going over STEP ONE or TWO again, as the need to decide sharpens your mind. 

Look through all the information you have collected and narrow down your choices. You may feel you need to do some more exploration.

NOTE: You do not need to choose only one career or one educational institution. In fact a good decision allows for a PLAN A and a PLAN B and a PLAN C, because life is uncertain.


TIP: List the things that need to be done.

This may include applying to educational and financial aid you need.

Do it until everything on the list is ticked off.


The chances are that what you decide to do now, will not be what you are doing in seven years time. 21st century workers can expect a change every seven years or so and so an expectation of changing jobs and even entire careers (ie studying something quite different) is a realistic way to plan and an open mind is a good thing!