Decision making:
career choices 

Making a career choice is one of the most important decisions that we make in our lives. It can have a significant impact on our happiness, well-being, and financial stability. However, choosing the right career path can be challenging, and many people struggle to make a decision that feels right for them. In this article, we will explore some decision-making methods that can help you make informed and confident career choices. 

1. Increasing your self-awareness

Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, values, and interests. This process involves reflecting on your past experiences, accomplishments, and challenges to identify your skills and areas of expertise.  

Self-awareness can also involve taking personality and aptitude tests, which can provide insights into your natural abilities and preferences. 

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2. Researching potential careers

This can help you gain a better understanding of what the job entails, the required qualifications, and the earning potential. This process can involve speaking with professionals in the field, reading job descriptions, and exploring industry trends and growth projections. 

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3. Make a pro and con list

Creating a pros and cons list for each potential career can help you weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each option. This method can be particularly helpful for individuals who are deciding between two or three career options

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ProsCons
High demand: Data scientists are in high demand in today's data-driven world, which means there are plenty of job opportunities and good career prospects. High competition: As data science is a popular and growing field, there can be a lot of competition for job opportunities, which can make it difficult to stand out. 
High salary: Data scientists are typically well-compensated for their skills and expertise, with salaries ranging from mid to high six figures. Requires specialised skills: You may need to do training in particularly desirable programming languages. 
Exciting work: Working as a data scientist can be exciting, as it involves solving complex problems and making sense of large amounts of data. Long hours: Data scientists may be required to work long hours or on tight deadlines, especially during high-pressure projects. 
Variety of industries: Data scientists can work in a variety of industries, from tech to healthcare to finance, which means there is a wide range of career paths to choose from. Ethical considerations: Data scientists may face ethical dilemmas, such as concerns about data privacy and bias, which can be challenging to navigate. 
Continuous learning: Data science is a rapidly evolving field, so there is always something new to learn, which can make the work both challenging and rewarding. Technical challenges: Data scientists may face technical challenges, such as working with messy data or dealing with technical issues that arise during analysis. 

4. Make a decision matrix

A decision matrix involves creating a table that compares the different career options based on specific criteria. The criteria can include factors such as job satisfaction, earning potential, contributions to society, job security, and work-life balance. This method can help you objectively evaluate the pros and cons of each career option. 

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CriteriaSocial science postdocUser experience researcher
SalaryModerateHigh
Job growthModerateVery fast
Job satisfactionHighModerate not sure about commercial work
Work life balanceLowModerate
Skills requiredResearch, Analytical, Communication, Data Analysis Human-centered Design, User Research, Data Analysis 
Security of employmentLowModerate
InterestHighModerate
FlexibilityLowModerate
Contribution to societyHigh but over a long time periodLow because primarily commercial work

5. Informational interviews

Involve speaking with professionals in the field to gain a better understanding of the day-to-day responsibilities, challenges, and rewards of the job. This process can help you get a realistic picture of the career and determine if it is a good fit for you. 

Informational interviews are a way to learn from others and build your network, so approach them with an open mind and a genuine interest in the other person's experience.

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Top Tips:

  1. Identify your target: Start by researching people who work in the industry or profession you're interested in. Use LinkedIn's search function to find individuals with relevant job titles or who work at companies you're interested in.
  2. Write a personalized message: When you reach out to someone, be sure to personalize your message. Explain why you're interested in their work and ask if they would be willing to speak with you about their experience.
  3. Keep it short and sweet: Your message should be brief and to the point. Avoid writing a long, detailed message that will be overwhelming or time-consuming to read.
  4. Be respectful of their time: Keep in mind that the person you're contacting is likely busy, so be respectful of their time. Offer to speak with them at a time that's convenient for them, and keep the conversation focused and efficient.
  5. Follow up: If you don't hear back from the person you've contacted, don't be discouraged. Follow up with a polite message a few days later to see if they're still interested in speaking with you.

6. Exploring your emotions

Take some time to reflect on how you feel about different career options. Do you feel excited, anxious, or indifferent? Pay attention to your emotions as they can provide valuable insights into what career paths may be a good fit for you. 

Consider the long-term impact: Think about how different career options may impact your future happiness and fulfillment. Ask yourself if you can see yourself being happy and satisfied with a particular career choice in the long run.  

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Seek advice from others: Talk to people who are in the career fields you are interested in and ask for their advice. Their experiences can help you gain insights into the day-to- day realities of different jobs, and how well they align with your values and passions. 

Take action: Once you have considered all the factors, make a decision and take action towards your chosen career path. Remember that your emotions can guide you, but ultimately, it is up to you to take action towards achieving your career goals. 

pause, observe,
reflect,
act

Making a career choice requires careful consideration, planning and the patience to pause, observe and reflect, before you act. 

Remember, career decisions are not set in stone, and it is okay to make adjustments along the way as your experiences, interests and goals change. 
 

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