Still not sure what to do?

Still not sure what to do for a career? Here are some ideas.

Worried about making a career change

If you're thinking about changing your career, you may be wondering if this is the right step to take.

You may be worried about:

  • how you will afford the change
  • making a mistake
  • the risks of making a change.

Perhaps you want to return to the workforce after time away. You may be worried about:

  • having to learn new skills
  • having to start over again
  • being out of practice.

Questions to ask yourself

Instead of focusing on making the right decision, it may be useful to work out what career options you can commit to, and why or why not.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the reasons why I could commit to this career?
  • Are there any reasons why I couldn't commit to this career?

You've finished your qualification. What now?

Not everyone knows what jobs to apply for when they finish a tertiary qualification.

As a graduate, you may:

  • be unaware of the different industries where you can use your qualification
  • feel as if you don't have enough work experience
  • feel worried about making a 'wrong' decision.

Actions you can take

You can:

  • talk to career advisers at your tertiary provider
  • talk to whānau, friends or employers
  • look for graduate jobs or internship opportunities on company websites
  • use online tools to match your interests and skills to jobs
  • consider volunteering or taking a gap year.

No idea what to do when you leave school

Not everyone knows what to do after they finish school. It may take time, and a few career changes, to work out what you'd like to do.

As a learner, you may:

  • feel overwhelmed about having to make the 'right' choice
  • have too many options
  • worry about disappointing your parents or caregivers
  • fail to get into a course you need for your career
  • have no strong feelings about any choices
  • feel worried about making a 'wrong' decision.

Actions you can take

You can:

  • talk to family/whānau and friends for advice
  • talk to career advisers, course providers or employers
  • consider other ways to get credits you need to enter a course
  • use online tools to match your interests and skills to jobs
  • consider taking a gap year.

Unsure what to do after school? - video


Five learners share how they chose what to do after school - and how it worked – 1.35 mins.

Amy: Obviously coming out of school is a big step. Let alone leaving your friends or family you have to decide what to do with the rest of your life.

TC: I think you need to weigh up your options and see how things are playing out in your life.

Shevaun: Don't be pressured into studying especially if you don’t know what you want to study.

Shannon: You can always take a gap year taking a year off can always get you to think about the opportunities available to you and who knows, you might even miss school. I definitely did.

Amy: You're gonna make a lot of mistakes, you’re gonna go down one path and it’s not going to work out but don’t just get in a slump, just think, OK, that didn’t work, let's go this way instead and see what happens down that road.

TC: You just gotta make sure that you gonna end up living a life that you think is gonna keep you happy whether it be staying where you are or studying, travelling.

Shevaun: I travelled once I left school and I really enjoyed it, the experiences, seeing different countries and how different they are from New Zealand.

Francis: Find a lot of people who have left school and just talk to them as much as you can and you’ll probably get a few different ideas off of them.

Amy: Your life is full of trial and error at this age and you just got to roll with it.


Steps to take to make hard decisions

Sometimes decisions are hard because it can seem that no alternative is better than the other.

To make a career decision you may need to consider both the facts and your personal values.

  1. Get the facts and figures – talk to people and research your options.
  2. Ask yourself questions – what are you hoping for? What reasons do you have to commit to a choice?
  3. Give yourself time to make a decision – Give yourself time to consider the options. Don't rush your decision.

After you make a decision, think about your reaction.

  • Do you feel relieved or disappointed?
  • Is it what you'd hoped for?

What if you still don't know what to do?

Sometimes you may look at all of your options and find that none are right for you.

That's OK – but try to be open to as many new ideas and work experience opportunities as possible.

This will give you more options to consider, and more chances to find an option that's right for you.

Updated 5 Jun 2019