Which Career Is the Best Fit for Me?

28 Feb, 2024 | University Preparation

Choosing your career path is one of the first big steps you’ll take as a young adult, so it can often be a daunting prospect. However, the possibilities are endless, and as long as you base your choices on your personal preferences, passions and interests, your journey will definitely take you somewhere exciting! 

This article is here to help you define your goals, and identify which paths are best suited to your skills and interests to get you started.

Why Do Career Choices Matter?

Your career choice has some significant, long-term implications. It shapes your personal satisfaction, financial stability and overall well-being, so it’s important that your career choices align with your life goals. 

For example, if seeing the world is important to you, a career that involves frequent travel, or that has a high salary and holiday allowance, would support this. Similarly, if you want a career that makes a big impact in the world, perhaps look at professions and organisations that work in sustainability, human rights and global development.

How Do I Choose a Career That’s Right for Me?

It can be difficult to refine your choices if you have a lot of interests or you’re not sure what the future holds. 

Here’s a handy step-by-step guide to help you approach the career decision-making process systematically and start working out what’s right for you.

Step 1: Self-reflection and assessment

The first step is to identify your interests, passions and values. Your personal strengths and skills will align with potential careers, so it’s important to realise your unique skill set to find the right fit. 

If you’re great at Maths and logic puzzles, you might be well-suited for software engineering or finance. If you’re good at thinking on your feet and expressing yourself in debate, perhaps something in law or policy could be for you. 

If you’re finding it difficult to work out what your skill set might be, the OxBright Career Test is a great tool for structured self-assessment to help narrow down your personal strengths.

Three students working on laptops and in notebooks

Step 2: Researching industries and careers

It’s important to do your research to get familiar with different industries and understand the day-to-day responsibilities of various careers. There are a lot of online resources available from companies and recruiters, as well as independent forums for employees to share information and give advice to job applicants. 

Exploring a broad range of careers can open up new possibilities that you might never have thought of, and there are often many different angles from which to approach a sector. 

You might already know what you’d like your career path to be – which is great! – but it’s always a good idea to be adaptable and have a good understanding of where else your skills might fit in a rapidly changing global job market.

I . Technology and IT Careers

The tech industry is one of the fastest growing industries. It has a number of important sectors that enable global finance, communications, government and security. These include areas like software development, cybersecurity and data science. 

The tech industry is a little different in that employers generally value so-called “soft skills” less than quantitative performance, testing whether you have the technical skills necessary for the work, including: 

  • Coding or programming 
  • Mental maths 
  • Problem solving
  • Adaptability 

There are lots of ways to improve these skills, such as preparatory courses to get to grips with programming languages through opportunities like OxBright’s Computer Science courses

II. Healthcare Professions

The healthcare sector is a great option for people with a strong work ethic and a desire to create real impact. Roles like doctor and nurse vary in terms of  training, working hours, salary and international transferability, so it’s important to do your research. 

It can take decades of academic study, practical exams and experience hours to become a surgeon, whereas training to be a healthcare assistant will allow you to get stuck in and start caring for patients straight away. 

There are also new roles emerging, such as in health informatics, which develops information and technology to provide better care, or in telemedicine, which uses existing communication technologies to provide remote healthcare for patients who cannot be treated in person. 

Careers in healthcare require: 

  • Natural empathy 
  • Good communication skills 
  • Continuous learning mindset 

OxBright’s Medicine courses are the ideal opportunity to experience the kinds of learning and practical skills required in these fields. 

III. Business and Finance Roles

Roles in business and finance are some of the most competitive career options. There’s a general understanding that these areas require: 

  • Mathematics 
  • Economics
  • Computing skills 

This is true for many roles, and there’s certainly overlap with the quantitative assessment approach of the tech industry. However, there’s much more diversity in business, including areas like entrepreneurship, marketing and management. All of these require essential skills such as: 

  • Strategic thinking
  • Leadership qualities
  • Financial acumen 

If you think you might be business-minded, an OxBright Business course is a great way to gain experience and work out which area you might want to go into. 

IV. Creative Arts and Media Careers

Some of the most wide-ranging career options are found in the creative arts and media sectors, encompassing writing, design, filmmaking and digital media. These fields are ideal for those whose strengths lie in: 

  • Creativity 
  • Innovation
  • Adaptability 

Whether it’s making a ground-breaking documentary, preserving cultural heritage, or designing architecture to combat the climate crisis, there are plenty of ways in which you can make a big difference. 

There’s a large variety of options in the creative arts and media, so it’s really important to do your research and narrow down particular areas you’d like to start in. There are lots of transferable skills in the creative arts so you can try out different options until you find the right fit for you. 

A good place to start is with communication and creativity, so why not try out our Creative Writing course to start honing these skills. 

Student smiling while writing in a notebook next to a laptop

V. Science and Research-Based Professions

If you’re interested in understanding the world and developing innovations in areas like healthcare, space exploration and sustainability, then science and research-based professions might be for you! 

Science research deep-dives into the broad disciplines of biology, chemistry, physics and environmental science. This could involve growing organoids, documenting newly discovered species, creating lenses for telescopes, or developing renewable nuclear energy. 

These careers are well-suited to people who have: 

  • Natural curiosity
  • Strong critical thinking skills 
  • Perseverance

If this sounds like you, our Biology and Life Sciences courses offer in-depth learning and subject-specific experience.

Step 3: Skill and qualification analysis

It’s important to match your skills and qualifications with the requirements of your chosen industry. You can build the necessary skill sets through education and training. For example:

  • Studying the Sciences, or gaining work experience volunteering in patient care, will prepare you nicely for medical training.
  • Taking Mathematics-related subjects and online coding courses is great preparation for a career in finance or tech. 
  • Submitting your work to public competitions, or volunteering with youth groups who provide creative opportunities for children, is a strong starting foundation for a career in the arts. 

The more targeted your education and training is, the more competitive you’ll be in your future university and job applications.  

University Degrees and Career Specialisation

University degrees equip you with the skills and experience that employers are looking for in certain areas. Business and finance sectors will be looking for degrees in Maths, Statistics, Computer Science and Economics, whereas a degree in History, Art History, Archaeology or Anthropology will be useful for a career in heritage. 

Choosing a degree that develops the relevant skills required for the sector you’re interested in puts you in the best position to secure internships and graduate careers. Employers often provide information on which degrees they expect their applicants to hold, and universities also provide suggestions for future careers after graduation, so do your research! 

Being able to demonstrate how your chosen course is useful for your future career will also significantly strengthen your university application.

Vocational Training and Skill Development

Vocational degrees like Law, Medicine and Veterinary Science are required if you want to work in any of the corresponding professions. This regulation ensures each graduate has the necessary skills and experience to practise their profession safely and effectively. 

There’s also vocational training and skills development available for other industries. Training might not be required, but it will certainly give you a head start and help you to stand out as a committed and diligent candidate. This could be anything from a course in a construction specialism, such as carpentry, to a library internship to get to grips with cataloguing systems and handling delicate materials.

Student showing a cardboard model to the camera

Apprenticeships and On-the-Job Learning

Apprenticeships can be a great alternative to the traditional route of a university degree. They offer a great opportunity for on-the-job learning experiences, allowing you to apply the skills you learn to gain practical experience alongside your qualification. 

Industries which highly value hands-on experience, such as construction or software engineering, will often offer opportunities to obtain a qualification while earning a salary. Other fields are increasingly offering apprenticeships, including certain jobs in the legal and heritage sectors. 

Many major companies offer apprenticeships. Most of these are centralised on UCAS, where you can submit an application in a similar way to university courses. 

Step 4: Considering lifestyle and values

Your career choice will have a major impact in shaping your future lifestyle, so it’s important to carefully consider your preferred work-life balance. 

Some careers, like in finance, law or medicine, will have long and variable hours, so it’s important to reflect on your desired lifestyle! This includes factors like salary, location and opportunities for travel or further education. 

You should also envision how your personal values correlate with potential careers. For example, if you place high value on giving back to communities and avoiding morally grey areas, working in effective altruism or an NGO might be a better option than quant analysis or banking.

In-Demand Careers of the Future

In such a fast-paced world, where new breakthroughs and global developments emerge each year, the job market is constantly changing. It’s important to stay informed about future career trends so you can make forward-thinking choices that will stand you in good stead years from now. 

For example, the future may hold more opportunities for working in places like Dubai and Sydney, where business and finance have been booming, or additional options for online work and the “digital nomad” lifestyle. 

Similarly, cultural shifts like the greater emphasis on holistic and preventative healthcare may provide more opportunities for people to find work in healthcare-adjacent areas.

Tech trends shaping future careers

Job markets also respond to emerging technologies and tech trends like artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT). 

Some jobs in technology and engineering may be encroached upon with developments in AI, yet new fields will also be created in AI programming and management. 

New technologies provide more opportunities for hybrid working, and also introduce technologies into other fields. For example, one of the fastest growing areas in Humanities research is the “Digital Humanities”, with artists and musicians finding new opportunities in the gaming industry.

Sustainability and green careers

Sustainability is now a key concern for institutions and industries across the world. It has given rise to new “green careers” in renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation to safeguard the planet for future generations. 

There are plenty of tech-based, business, cultural outreach, legal and political roles in this area, and it’s a great way to use your skills to make a real difference in the world!

Medicine student using a stethoscope on another student while two more students chat in the background

Healthcare technology and ageing population

Developments in healthcare technology, alongside the growing pressure of an ageing population, are creating new roles in specialist areas of the healthcare industry. 

This includes the field of gerontology, as well as new technologies for tackling eyesight and hearing loss and developing personalised medicine to improve quality of life in longevity. 

Telehealth will also continue to grow as communications and connectivity improve, providing much-needed support for those unable to be treated in person.

Most importantly, there are plenty of options out there – and a lot of skills are transferable! 

Taking a proactive approach to your career development will ensure you have the best start possible stepping into the job market and can look forward to working towards your goals.


By Alice Spiers

Alice is an historian at St Anne’s College, Oxford, where she teaches undergraduate history (predominantly medieval history and historiographical theory). She is also a freelance writer and editor, and a research assistant at the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Studies.

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