Building Out A Career Path

There is a big difference between student life and the world of work. Once you have qualified you will be moving into a situation where you spend at least eight hours a day at the workplace. It’s important to make sure your job is fulfilling, that it allows you to use your skills, and that it opens up a world of possibilities for you. This means you should give thought to a career path.

What is a career path?

A career path is the series of steps you need to take to get yourself on the road to achieving your long-term aspirations. Your qualification can be the first step to your goals and each job you get should equip you with more of the skills, knowledge and experience you need to make your career dream come true. It’s strategic to start thinking about your career path before you begin your higher education. With a career path in mind, you can make better decisions on which courses to take, jobs to pursue, and even internships that will be right for you.

Why career paths are important

These days, there are a host of career avenues open to students that didn’t exist a generation ago. While this can be exciting, it can also be overwhelming and if you are not sure what career path you wish to follow, too many choices can result in time-wasting and jobs that don’t lead to where you ultimately want to be. It’s unlikely that you are going to fall into your dream job through luck. On the other hand, you may be clear about what your dream job is, but you are not sure what you need to do to get there.


Planning your career progression is important because:

  • It will mean you have identified and acquired the skills needed to attract a broad range of potential employers
  • You will be able to identify how a particular skill, responsibility or job fits within your long-term goal
  • Your chance of job satisfaction will be greater because you have a sense of purpose; each step is taking you towards your dream career
  • It will mean decision-making gets easier as you will be able to evaluate your options in light of your end goal

The steps to developing your own career path

Creating a career plan means being aware that you need to understand the world of work and be clear about who you are, and the ways you fit into it.

Deciding a career boils down to asking yourself some key questions:

  • What are my interests?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What activities do I enjoy?
  • Can I afford to pursue this career?
  • Do I have the necessary finance to get the relevant qualifications or skills?
  • Is there a future in this career?
  • Are there a lot of jobs out there?
  • Once I have qualified, how difficult will it be to get onto my chosen path?

Answer these questions and it will become easier to find the right career path. Having a career path mapped out will allow you to become strategic in your decision making. You will be in a better position to make significant choices about the qualifications, majors, post-degree study, training and internships you chose.

Following these three steps will help you with your career path planning:

    • 1. Step onto your career path with your eyes wide open. Look at your skills and interests and then take a realistic look at the job market. Are there very few jobs, or is it difficult to get a job? Will you need more qualifications or further training? Then research businesses that offer the career you’re interested in and speak to professionals in the field. Better still, try to get practical experience by volunteering or shadowing.
    • 2. Create an action plan. Write down your expectations and make them realistic. It would help to speak to someone in your chosen field and ask them where they found themselves at particular points in their careers. Then use a timeline to create milestones or specific action steps that you can tick off as you reach them. They might include further training or taking on additional responsibilities.
  • 3. Be prepared for change. Over time your goals may change, or you may face setbacks. It’s unlikely that you will reach your goals without stumbling along the way. Don’t lose hope. Adjust your plan and keep your vision in mind.

When choosing your qualification, it's always wise to take a closer look at the career paths it will open up for you. At The Independent Institute of Education’s (The IIE’s) Varsity College you will be able to book an appointment with one of our student advisors who can give you expert guidance regarding which qualification would most likely suit you. If you choose to study with us, by the time you graduate you'll be equipped with the knowledge you need to get ahead in whichever career you choose.

The IIE is South Africa’s largest registered and accredited private provider of higher education. At Varsity College we understand that no two students are the same, or learn the same. That’s why we make sure a student’s education is shaped around them; how they like to learn, what they are passionate about, what makes them tick, and what makes them thrive. Our education by design approach allows students to grow into their best, and creates a space where they can live, learn and play - their way.