Laying a brighter career path

Crazy-Paving.jpg Dyslexia Scotland’s Career Coach, Katie Carmichael, explores how studying what you enjoy can lead to a fulfilling career.

We focus a lot on the issues of how to study, but before you even get there, do you really know what to study? And how are you deciding? We often try to decide what to study based on what job that might help us get, to plan out a direct pathway to what we’ve convinced ourselves, or been convinced by others, is the right occupation.

Keep an open mind

Road Trip Nation, career education organisation, observes that “life is only linear in the rear view mirror.” In other words, when we look back, we can probably spot the patterns and connections between our career decisions and activities, but if we expect to plot straight line to a very specific point in front of us, we might miss the real opportunities along the way as we charge down a very narrow pathway. Some of our best career opportunities can actually come about through chance encounter, as we go about doing what we enjoy and being open to new experiences.

Listen to your gut

When you’re making a decision about what to study, whether choosing your school subjects, applying for a college course or even undertaking learning for leisure, it’s perfectly ok to base that decision on your best feelings, rather than reasons, as following your intuitions can form a happier, more diverse and colourful career journey.

Lay your own path

Sir Dominic Cadbury, of chocolate fame, said that “There’s no such thing as a career path, it is crazy paving and you have to lay it yourself.” Imagine yourself making each step in whichever direction you are curious about at that point in time. Whatever stage you are at in your career or learning, you will probably have noticed that studying is easiest when it’s something you enjoy and are good at.

The reason being, that when we are really, truly engaged in what we are studying, we experience that sense of ‘flow’ that helps us to learn, feel confident and ultimately to grow and develop.

Scotland puts this in to action for young people, as the principles of Curriculum for Excellence recognise that all learning can be channelled through a subject or activity of interest, and that this builds the foundations for well-rounded human beings. This approach to studying makes for life-long and life-wide learning (and studying) success.

As there will certainly be things you know you have to learn in life or work, you can make studying have more ‘flow’ by directing the learning through a subject or activity that you are curious about, and, when you are faced with a choice about what to study, listen to what your heart wants, as well as what your head thinks.

Learning Points:

  • It’s ok to follow your heart when choosing what to study
  • Fulfilling careers aren’t always planned – often they’re discovered
  • The more enjoyable studying is, the easier it is to learn

Some further reading:

Here are some examples of people whose fulfilling careers have emerged from combining things they enjoying doing:

Did you know? Dyslexia Scotland has a members’ resource library with useful books on fun ways to develop learning, including on Literacy through Art.

This Scottish study makes a link between playing football and learning maths.

Let us know – what interests do you combine to make work or learning really enjoyable?

Katie Carmichael, Career Coach

 

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When did your dyslexia story begin?

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The hardest part of having dyslexia is always figuring out where to start. It’s easy to say, you start at the beginning. But what does that mean. This is why my story doesn’t have a beginning, but it does have an end – I’ve just not got that far yet.

I first began to notice my struggles in secondary school. The teachers taught one way and I only learn one way. Unfortunately for me, it was different from the way the teachers taught. The only escape I had was my Art class, as you cannot teach someone how to express themselves as only they can figure that out on their own. That is when I realised my passion for Art & Design, there was no right or wrong way of doing it. I understood the importance of a painting portraying a thousand words. I finally found my passion.

Following secondary school, I attended college for 3 years and moved onto studying Interior and Architectural Design at Heriot Watt University. It was at University when I was tested for dyslexia by a specialist, whom I employed myself. Speaking to someone who could explain what I was feeling was such a relief. It became clear that all my life, I was trying to climb the stairs with my shoes tied together, but not anymore.

I still faced difficulties through my studies however, if you find your strategies to help you understand something it gets easier, I promise.

I used to think I would never achieve higher education and here I am, a graduate of Heriot Watt with a 2:1 Honours Degree in Interior and Architectural Design. In this world, there will always be people who will tell you that you aren’t good enough and who try to shoot you down. You may have fallen more times than you can count, but the only thing that matters is if you can stand back up again.

Margaret-Ann O’Hara