15 Career Readiness Questions Every Student Should Ask
Career readiness is a concept that every student should be planning for, whether they are in the latter stages of high school or the beginning of college. The world of today is a competitive one, and you cannot afford to wait before exploring your interests and passions and seeing how those explorations translate into a career.
To assist you in the journey, we have put together a list of 15 career readiness questions that every student should ask along with a compendium of resources so that you can get the maximum benefit out of each answer. Let’s begin!
1. Do I want to work with people or on my own?
Working with others certainly has its advantages, but it can be a challenge if you are not the type of person geared towards socialization and work better alone. Unfortunately, we don’t always get a choice when it comes to our exact working conditions.
In contrast, maybe you are the type of person who works well with others; that doesn’t mean that you will always be rubbing shoulders with people who are easy to work with. In those cases, it helps to have the type of people skills necessary for navigating difficult personalities.
For some tips on how to work with people when you’re an introvert, The Muse has some great suggestions in Introverts at Work: How to Work Well in an Extrovert’s World that can be easily applied to the classroom; and when it comes to working with difficult people, whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, stop by Psychology Today for their 10 keys to handling unreasonable and difficult people.
2. How well do I respond in unfamiliar settings?
There will certainly be times in life where you are in a fish out of water situation and have to do your best despite not knowing how to proceed.
In these types of scenarios, it’s important to try but also important to learn. You may have to take your lumps. But in the end, you will be a better employee or student for it.
Since it can be difficult walking into a strange or unfamiliar scenario and being at your best, we suggest reading up on how you can make these uncomfortable circumstances work to your advantage by visiting Lifehacker and studying up on their Top 10 Uncomfortable Situations and How to Deal with Them.
3. How do I feel after heavy interpersonal communication?
Some people thrive on interaction with others, while others feel bogged down and worn out from constant face-to-face communication.
If you are an extroverted person then you probably feel energized from such interactions; but if you’re the introverted type, you’re going to need help. Fast Company has some helpful tips for how you can decompress and recharge your battery after heavy interaction with others in their 4 simple remedies for burnout that are backed by science.
We recommend checking that out if large groups of people and heavily social situations exhaust you.
4. Do I problem-solve based on available resources or new ideas or a mix of both?
Some students and career professionals perform well when turned loose on a situation that requires a bit of visionary support. For most of us, however, it doesn’t come as easy. If you are the type of person, for instance, who has always been hesitant to act for fear of getting in trouble, this can be downright terrifying.
But because thinking outside the box is always beneficial regardless of your preference, we recommend heading over to Lifehack and checking out their 11 ways to think outside the box.
You don’t have to become a visionary along the lines of Steve Jobs or Thomas Edison, but you do need some ability to have faith in your judgment when there is no clear-cut rulebook.
5. Does learning something new excite me?
There has never been a better time in the history of humanity to be a lover of learning. With audiobooks, podcasts, videos on how to do virtually everything that’s ever been done, today’s lover of learning has access to more knowledge than any other generation.
It is important to maximize your productivity time. Continuing to learn new things is vital to developing in your studies and your career.
But we also know that you can’t always be in a state of consumption when it comes to new information. Still, you can apply Make Use Of’s 10 Clever Productivity Hacks Anyone Can Use to your daily studies and routines.
6. Am I bored with this?
Everyone hits a point in their lives, no matter how much they love what they do, that they will hit a bad day or a bad stretch of days and start to question whether they are in the right profession.
Since boredom and burnout will eventually set in no matter what profession you choose, being able to reconnect with your initial fire will keep you from staying bored for too long. For help on how to rekindle your passion for learning, Scientific Learning’s tips are some of the best on the ‘Net.
7. Am I a rule bender, a rule breaker, or a rule follower?
See Andy Griffith show has a wonderful illustration in one of its early episodes, where and he tries to explain to Opie the importance of breaking rules. In his illustration, which we will not as eloquently restate here, Andy tales Opie there is a no swimming sign that a little boy ignores. Jumping in, he gets in trouble and begins to drown. A man sees a little boy struggling to stay above water, and he also sees the no swimming sign. Does he save the little boy and break the rule, or does he let a little boy drown and obey the rule? The answer is obvious.
There is a time and a place to follow the rules and a time and a place to go against the grain. Fast Company has an excellent piece on finding the balance entitled, The Rules to Breaking the Rules. Check it out if you insist on being a maverick.
8. What is my empathy level towards others?
Empathy is getting harder and harder to find in today’s world of technology dependence and short attention span’s. However, it is an important quality to have not just for your future career and for your studies, but also for the good of humanity. That said, it’s not always the easiest thing to put into practice.
Don’t feel badly if you have trouble connecting to others. Realize that it’s a behavior that can be learned like any other provided that you’re willing to put in the work. For help with that, we recommend checking out these tips from David F. Swink at Psychology Today.
9. Am I enthusiastic and warm or calm and collected?
Unbridled enthusiasm and warmth can be great for sinking your teeth into a project. However, there is a time when you have to disconnect from the emotional vantage point and think things through.
Balancing emotions with objectives will improve your career readiness as you progress through your studies. For more insight on the age-old struggle between passion and performance, we recommend checking out Entrepreneur’s look at Why We Balance Passion with Reason.
10. When others ask for help, what’s my reaction?
We certainly understand that there is not always an upside to helping out other people. Some are not as concerned about reciprocating that help as you are in giving it. Nevertheless, if you can adopt an attitude of helpfulness, it will take you a long way in a number of fruitful careers. People value helpfulness and attended to gravitate towards it. It is also a quality that will distinguish you as a leader and/or teacher.
Knowing how you perform in the role of teacher or leader will tell you the type of profession that you need to be in when the time comes to take on a career. Teamwork is increasingly important in the global jobs marketplace, so be willing to grow in that regard if you’re not there yet. For help in doing so, check out Business News Daily’s 6 Tips for Getting Your Team to Work Together.
11. How do I feel about schedules, deadlines, and planning?
Organization is a funny thing because what looks like organization to one person can look like chaos to another. No one should judge your processes but you. If you have a way of doing things that works for you, then you should go with it until it stops working. However, it is important to note that when others depend on you as they do in schedules, deadlines, and other types of planning, there is a clear outcome that you need to be hitting. In other words, it’s not just about satisfying your own interests but those of other people. Does your system work in this context?
Learning to be more organized and regimented with your work or studies won’t make you a sellout. Remember that most people learn and perform better when they stretch the boundaries beyond what comes naturally. For help in how to excel outside of your learning styles, check out Wired magazine’s All You Need to Know About the ‘Learning Styles’ Myth, In Two Minutes.
12. How well do I respond to “moved cheese”?
There is a classic business book entitled who moved my cheese? It is designed to help employees adjust and excel in working environments of dynamic change. The gist of it is that you do not want to become like the mouse who gets lost in and starves to death whenever he can no longer find his cheese. You want to be aware of the broader picture so that when things do change you are able to change along with them.
Don’t let the cheese control you whenever it is inevitably moved. Instead be willing to adapt your approach and “go with the flow.” For tips on how to do just that, we recommend checking out the book itself, Who Moved My Cheese?, which you can do for free by clicking here.
13. How well, or how likely, am I to defend my ideas when challenged?
Well you do not have to go off and get your law degree, it is important to be able to defend your position is whenever they are challenged. For starters, there is a good chance that you may be right in how you look at the specific situation. That correctness will lend you credibility in future conversations. But even if you are wrong, the ability to defend your positions will take you further than if you just roll over and play dead.
You may not always be right, but it’s not about always being right. It’s about standing up for yourself and having the confidence to become an active part of the problem solving process. That will help your career readiness no matter which field you’re in. For help in defending your positions, there are few better sources than Steve Pavlina’s How to Win an Argument.
14. How comfortable am I with leadership roles?
Being a leader doesn’t come naturally for everyone, and there will be times when it’s best to let others take on that role, particularly when you have expertise limitations on a project. Even so, learning to become a better leader will give you the chance to determine when to step up and when to fall back. For help in this area, we recommend checking out Entrepreneur’s How to Train Yourself to Be a Great Leader.
15. How important is the power of persuasion to me?
Not everyone can be as persuasive as a Martin Luther King, Jr., but you can learn something from the greats no matter how good you are at the power of persuasion going in. For this skill set, go directly to the sources and check out the 35 Greatest Speeches in History from the Art of Manliness.
You will find that the power of persuasion has the ability to change entire nations. Imagine what it could do for your career!
Now that you’ve gone through each of these 15 career readiness questions and the accompanying resources, what are some fears or concerns that you’re still having about picking a career? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image Mansfield Adult Education]