Navigating your way through career planning

Updated: Apr 17, 2020

We grow up with exposure to an array of careers; interacting with teachers and educators on a daily basis, watching tv and theatre actors in our favourite movies, TV shows and productions and listening to an eclectic playlist of talented musicians. We watch an array of sportsmen compete in national and international events and channel our own passion when we are coached through sporting activities. We visit a variety of healthcare professionals, including doctors and dentists to maintain good health. Transport drivers and conductors get us from A to B, whilst Police, Fire and Rescue strive to keep us safe.

These interactions play an important role in our childhood, allowing us to begin exploring ourselves and future careers at a very early age; role playing and developing our personalities, figuring out our likes and dislikes and portraying the various professionals we come across in our daily lives. As we grow older, we become more aware of what we like and who we want to be. Our choices may change as often as the weather or they can become deep rooted as our passion develops.

" What do you want to be when you’re older? "

Whilst some children have it all figured out, there are so many who dread being asked “what do you want to be when you are older?”. For those who have it all figured out, make sure you understand the profession, the skills and personal traits that you need to succeed, the potential sectors you can enter and not only the potential salary and working hours. For those who don’t have it figured out don’t fret; the importance is not on when but how you figure out what you want to be.

Top 5 tips for effective career planning

  • Plan early

The earlier we begin planning our career the longer we have to truly find out what profession suits us.

In the UK, students access careers education and access to information advice and guidance as part of their school curriculum between ages 11 - 18. This provides a platform for students to learn about different roles, develop competencies and confidence, get involved in enterprising and plan future learning that is matched to their career aspirations.

Planning can begin much earlier.

  • Start by exposing your child to a variety of careers and professionals. Pop up events and open days are a great way to encourage young children to explore.

  • Talk to them child about the people they meet and interact with, the role they play in society and what make them good at what they do.

  • Talk to them about professionals within your own family.

Remind them that they can be whatever and whoever they want to be.

  • Plan in reverse

Effective career planning starts with the career first and works its way backwards through the various levels of education.

A plan that starts with qualifications first without having a career in mind could result in your child having the wrong subjects, degree or skills to enter into their chosen career.

  • Do your research

Research provides us with the facts we need to make an informed decision.

Make sure your child investigates what their aspired professions involve, as well as the possible career pathways and graduate employment opportunities they lead to.

Do they need postgraduate or professional training?

What skills do they need, what qualification routes are available, what work experience will it require?

  • Undertake a variety of observations, work placements and participate in skill development programmes.

Ensure your child participates in a range of work experience; work experience doesn’t need to be specific to their industry, work experiences that provide opportunities to develop or utilise key skills and develop confidence will add value to university applications and their future working life.

Don’t forget to provide your child with opportunities to develop soft skills too. Soft skills are important to preparing for work-life. Summer school is a good opportunity to join activities and whilst many summer school programmes focus on academic subjects and English language courses, soft skill courses like Role Models’ summer school develop core competencies and focus on the 4C’s: Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication and Collaboration.

**Contact us for more information or to join for this summer**

  • Tailor extra-curricular activities around hobbies and developing valuable skills

When writing personal statements and undertaking interviews for university, extra-curricular activities can add value to your overall application and help to demonstrate crucial skills.

Extra-curricular activities do not need to be explicit to your chosen field i.e. if you are an aspiring doctor you don’t need to be a Red Cross Youth. Hobbies and interests that demonstrate passion and utilise skills are advantageous.

For example, playing a team sport such as basketball can demonstrate team-working, communication, a sense of awareness, passion and confidence. Team work and communication are essential skills for study and employment; Doctors work in collaboration with other healthcare professionals and communicate through a range of methods and in a variety of environments.

Useful resources to help your child explore careers:

National Careers Service

The UK’s National Careers Service allows you to explore careers, take a skills health check to find out what skills, interests and motivations you have and find a suitable course.

Find out what a job involves and if it is right for you:


UCAS Careers allows you to explore a laundry list of careers, what they do, what you need to do to become one of them and provides information on related skills, potential qualification routes and potential places to work.

Explore UCAS Careers

NHS Careers

There are hundreds of roles in health for you to explore. Use the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) careers to find a role that interests you and discover the entry requirements and skills you need.

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