A-Level Results Day: How to choose the right career path

A woman looking into the future for new business opportunities, career path, a-level results

It can be really difficult knowing what career path to follow, especially when you’ve just got your exam results and need to decide what to do next.

Entering the world of work can feel daunting, particularly if you’re not sure what career path you want to take.

When searching for a role, it’s likely you’ll have lots of questions from whether a certain job is right for you to how to make a good first impression.

Here, Becky Hogan, Talent and Learning Director at Bupa Global & UK answers some of the most commonly asked questions on how to choose the right career path and offers her advice on what attributes employers look for:

How do I know if a role is right me?

Knowing whether a job role is the right fit for you can be tricky, but is important in helping you find a job you enjoy. Start by asking yourself some questions; what do I enjoy, what key skills do I have that I could use in my future job, what kind of company do I want to work for, what working environment do I want, what are the next steps in the career path?

Knowing about the company and their values is essential when applying for a job as otherwise you may find you’re struggling to engage with your role and find your place within the business.

It also a good idea to identify what the next career steps within the role are and whether these align to your goals are for the future.

How can I deal with interview anxiety?

It’s perfectly normal to feel anxious before an interview and having some nerves can be a good thing. However, there are some things you can do to prevent any anxiety from becoming overwhelming.

Start by doing your research about the company, practice some potential questions they might ask you and have a list of questions prepared to ask them. Don’t be afraid to take notes in with you. No one expects you to remember everything off the top of your head, so it’s fine to take notes about your experience so that you can refer back to them.

Don’t worry if you feel anxious or get nervous when answering a question, take a deep breath and gather your thoughts. If you need to get them to repeat the question, then make sure you ask.

More broadly, Bupa Health Clinics’ Clinical Director, Dr Luke Powles, has some advice on managing anxiety. They said:

Share your feelings

Although this may be obvious, many people struggle to talk about their feelings. If you’re feeling anxious about an interview, speaking to someone about how you’re feeling can really help, this could be a family member, close friend or a tutor or teacher who you are comfortable speaking to. Ask them to help you prepare for the interview, whether this is doing mock interview or going over some questions with you, it can really help to alleviate some of the anxiety you may be feeling.

Be prepared

Making sure you’re prepared ahead of the interview can really help to reduce any feeling of anxiety. This can be by preparing notes about yourself, your experience and the company and by, if the interview is virtual, making sure you’ve got a quiet space with good Wi-FI connection to do the interview. If it’s in person, then make sure you’ve planned your route and know where you are going on the day.

This may seem simple, but if you are not prepared it can make the anxiety you are feeling worse and stress you out ahead of the interview.

The importance of self-kindness

Being kind to yourself is incredibly important, especially if you’re struggling with anxiety. Practicing mindfulness, taking time to exercise and downtime away from interview prep can all help to reduce anxiety. Even going for a walk round the block when feeling anxious will help calm any panicky feelings we may have.

It’s also key that you get a good night’s sleep before the interview, which can be difficult if we’re worrying about the following day. If you can’t sleep get out of bed and listen to a podcast to help you unwind and distract your mind.

During the interview, don’t stress yourself out if you’re not sure about the answer to a question, ask the interviewer to rephrase the question. Make sure you’re taking deep breaths before answering and have water next to you in case you need a drink.

Remember that the interview is for you as well to see whether the company would be a good fit, so if you don’t feel it went well or you weren’t sure about the company then don’t be hard on yourself, the right opportunity will come.

Follow a balanced diet

Following a balanced diet can make sure your brain is getting the right nutrients. In addition to getting enough fruit and veg, try to ensure your diet includes foods which releases energy slowly – like wholegrain pasta or rice, oats and cereals or nuts and seeds. These can help keep your blood sugars steady, making you feel less tired and ready for your interview.

Make sure you’re staying hydrated too, at this is really important to aid concentration. Steer away from caffeine and alcohol though as these can aggravate any anxious thoughts you may have. Getting sugars from natural sources such as fruits affect your body different to processed sugars from sweets or fizzy drinks.

Smiling young black business woman shaking hands with a white business man, returning to work, Successful Mums

How do I make a good first impression?

This is something we know people, especially young people, worry about when it comes to interviewing and starting a new job. Making a good first impression is important, so make sure you’re keen to learn, approachable and have a good attitude.

In an interview, make sure your body language is open and engaging, and try to ask questions as this will help to build a rapport with the person interviewing you.

On your first day in your new role, go armed with questions to ask so you learn about your new colleagues, as this will help you build your relationships with them. Make sure you’re smiling and engaged in what they’re saying as this will leave a good first impression – remember your body language can also betray if you’re feeling bored or tired!

Uni’s not right for me, do I have any other options?

In short, yes! Particularly if you are looking for a career where you can help others, there are loads of roles that don’t require a degree, and you can start earning money right away. At Bupa, we have over 170 apprenticeship roles available right now!

This includes dental nurse apprenticeship roles available to people aged 16+ as well as carer apprenticeship roles based in our care homes, available to anyone over 18, and you don’t need any specific qualifications to apply.

More widely we also offer apprenticeships and onward learning related to leadership development, digital technology and nursing qualifications

What attributes are important for a role in the healthcare industry?

We know that more and more young people are looking for a career that makes a difference to others – and that’s why we’re seeing so many take up our apprenticeships and entry-level roles which set people up for a successful career in a caring profession.

So if you’re considering roles including nursing, care work or in dentistry, being caring and empathetic to people is a key skill which will help you to go a long way.

At Bupa, another key skill we look for is that people are good listeners and communicators as this is something which patients and residents need and are grateful for.

If you have these attributes, a career in healthcare could be really rewarding, with clear career pathways and opportunities to learn.

I want to learn while I earn, should I consider an apprenticeship?

Yes, apprenticeship programmes help prepare and equip people with the skills they need in an evolving world of work. As well as earning, you also have the opportunity to learn while getting real workplace experience in an industry you want to build a career in.

At Bupa, apprentices make up 10 per cent of our workforce and help our people to take their careers to the next level. We offer apprenticeships in our care homes, dental practices and health clinics to help train people to become nurses in the different areas, providing a clear career path for our people.

To find out more information about careers and apprenticeships at Bupa, click here.

About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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