At age 5 I wanted to be a ballerina, from age 10 I was firmly convinced I was going to be a singer and at 15 I was sure I was a born psychologist. Full of conviction, I stepped into university in Leuven where it later turned out that student life suited me better than studying itself (I’m sure I’m not the only one).

I am 25 now and one thing is for sure, I no longer answer this question with that wonderful childlike self-confidence. I have dozens of possible “dream jobs” and no clear top 3.

Another fun question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”, I honestly get nervous sometimes. Yet I can often still form an answer. The question “How do you plan to get there?” is, in my view, more interesting but also more complex and (perhaps for this very reason) rarely asked.

And how do you do that now, figure out the best way to get to your dream location?

I’m certainly no expert but I’ve done my best to compile some tips below that I hope will help you roughly outline your career path ahead of time.

  • Write it off, the general broad strokes, but also in detail. What characteristics does your dream job have? Which one certainly doesn’t? What does the organization you want to work in look like? Hierarchical/flat, a large corporate/a startup…? Write it down, keep it up, take it back now and then, and reevaluate as needed. When you write down dreams they become just a little more tangible and therefore more likely to be attainable!
  • Know yourself, your own strengths and work points, what energizes you and what you really don’t like. You can find endless tests on the Internet that will help you identify them. In addition, it can also be helpful to ask those close to you about your talents and challenges; they sometimes bring up things you wouldn’t think of yourself. Then consider in which functions you can best use them.
  • Be realistic. If your dream job is firefighter/woman but you have a panic fear of fire then that’s probably not going to be the best choice. Dwell on what appeals to you so much in that job and start looking for other jobs where you don’t come into contact with fire.
  • Keep learning and expand your view. There are currently so many ways to tutor for free, take advantage of them! Who knows, you may come across something new that you are very good at and/or that you enjoy doing immensely.
  • LinkedIn as inspiration: who has your dream job? Look at the path they took. What role did they start at to end up in their current position?
  • Be curious, go talk to people and ask about their experiences. You can never try every possible feature yourself so use your network to gather information. This way, you can still form an idea about what it would be like to have a certain job, what it would be like to work in certain industries and maybe even what it would be like to work for a certain employer.
  • Career coaching: is all that reflecting getting too much for you, don’t have a clear dream role in mind yet? No problem, there is a wide range of career counseling services in which you can actively search with the help of an expert. Meer info can be found at https://www.vdab.be/loopbaanbegeleiding .

Dare and don’t overthink! This is the most important tip. Now and then an unexpected opportunity appears in your path, do not be afraid to grab it with both hands even if it does not fit 100% into your mapped out route.

I hope these tips will get you started. Are there any other issues you are thinking about? What has helped you in your career? I’d love to hear about it!

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