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Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, it’s off to work we go!

Whether you are close to departing the academic womb or not, thinking about your future job is important at any stage. One of the questions from Chengcheng’s post that got me thinking was “What does your dream job look like?

How I thought getting my future job would look like:

1. Pick career

2. Get training for career

3. Get a job in that career

4. Guaranteed happiness… right?

If only it were that simple! When picking a career we can fail to consider the logistics of what our actual jobs will look like. For each profession there is a wide variation in the settings that people work in and often we do not put much thought into what settings work for us.

Being happy comes when we live consistent with our values, and happiness in our work is no exception. Our values reflect what we find meaningful and important in our lives. If we can begin to envision the type of job that aligns with our values, then we can direct our energies and training in that direction.


Step 1: What is my job with a capital J?                           John Kabat-Zinn

How do we figure out what we value – what we love about our work and could do without? It involves reflecting on what we want to get from our work and what we want to be able to give back.

Some questions to get you thinking:

What kind of job do you want – what kind of work matters to you? What are your favourite things that you do right now as part of your degree? What gives you energy and fuels your passion? Think about jobs or positions in the past that you loved, what was great and how can you translate that into your future job? What type of work-life balance do you want?

Who do you want to work with: what type of people do you want to be surrounded by? Do you want to work on a team or by yourself? Do you want to work with people a variety of people from different backgrounds or around likeminded people with similar training?

What type of setting do you want to work in? From home or at an office? What type/size of institution would like to work at? – NGO, private enterprise, government?

What do want your job to give you? Do you want a job that focuses on personal development and growth? Do you want to do the same type of work everyday or do you want new challenges? Do you want opportunities to be mentored and be a mentor to others? How much money is important to you?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, only the ones that are true to you. Be real with yourself! You might not have answers for all of these questions and likely the answers will evolve as you gain more experience

Step 2: How do I find and get that job?

Through SGS, we are fortunate as graduate students to have considerable professional resources and opportunities to discover what works for us and develop the necessary skillset to prepare one for that job. Here are some suggestions on answering some of those questions:



Network. Seek out the experiences of people who have your degree or have a job that you would like and get their advice. Queen’s vast alumni network is a great resource for this.

Gain relevant experience. training, workshops, internships, volunteering – e.g. want to know what it is like to work on a multidisciplinary team – seek one out.

Try new things. Be open to opportunities that don’t directly map onto what you think your job is. You might discover new things that you love.

Revamp the things you dislike.  Are there things about your work that you dislike but may still be part of your future job?  How can you make this more enjoyable or easier?

Together these things will hopefully get you thinking about the setting you would to end up in. Thinking about what you want your job to look like will help you find work that is more aligned with what you value and what will bring you most satisfaction!

Posted in Jobs and Careers Tagged with: , , , , , ,
One comment on “Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, it’s off to work we go!
  1. Colette says:

    This series on careers after grad studies has been awesome. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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