I remember when I was a student, schools were incredibly bad at providing career guidance that are practical and relevant. Poly courses were basically chosen by default, meaning everyone just tried to get into the first course that qualify for at the polytechnic located closest to their home.

These days, things have changed for the better. There are a lot more courses on offer for instance, and more young people are now aspiring to be entrepreneurs or app developers, which has shifted the focus from the usual medicine, finance and law courses to more varied ones.  

If you’re about to pursue further studies in a polytechnic but can’t figure out what course to take, here are some 3 tips that might help.

Consider your current passions and whether a career can come out from it

Perhaps you have something that you really enjoy doing in your spare time—it can be making jewelry, painting, caring for animals, or taking photographs. Whatever your current hobby is that you spend a bulk of your time on, leverage off it to explore what poly courses can help to develop those interests further. By using a poly course as a stepping stone to help add relevant skills to your current passions, It is very possible to transform your hobbies into a potential career. 

Let's say you like making jewelry, you probably know all the latest trends, and have an innate understanding of what styles look good on different people. By taking a marketing course in poly, it can help you understand the industry better, and potentially to learn how to become a jewelry buyer for Cartier and Tiffany and Co in future. Or a poly design course can help you to hone your design skills better so you have the confidence and ability to own your own startup business when you graduate.

Take a piece of paper and write down what you hope to see yourself doing in future. It will help to include details as well. Perhaps you want to work overseas, start your own company, become a powerful CEO, or to help people. Your next step will be to find out what these careers are really like, considering factors like salary, lifestyle and what people in these jobs actually do from day to day.

Take on internships, talk to adults doing these jobs and join an internet community targeted at these fields. It may not come to you right away, but after a few months of interacting with certain types of people you should have a good idea of what it’s like to join them.

Consider the kind of lifestyles your future career may bring 

Most students don't realise that work-life balance plays a huge role when selecting a potential career. This is also why the first 1-2 years of many young people’s careers are fraught with unease when they realise they don’t like the work environment they’ve entered.

The career path you choose is going to influence not only how much you earn and what you spend your day doing, but also the sort of lifestyle you live and the people you’ll be surrounded by. It’s a good idea to speak with working adults in the fields you’re interested in to find out more about what it’s actually like to do their jobs. That will help you to decide on whether it is truly a career path you want to explore, and to enrol into the relevant poly course.

For example, jobs in tech start-ups or advertising might allow for a little more creativity and flexibility, but be prepared to pull intense all-nighters. On the flip side, fields like law and management consulting are much more formal and hierarchical, so be prepared to go to work every day decked out in office attire and to show deference to your superiors. 

Make sure you're not only looking at the good stuff


One of the obvious upsides of being an adult is getting a "real" job and never having to step into another classroom ever again (also, never having to wear a school uniform again). Suddenly, you'll have all this money from a monthly salary. But make sure that you're not only looking at the upsides when evaluating a career and selecting a poly course that will hopefully lead you closer to that career path.

Many students rush to apply for the courses that churn out lawyers and doctors— thinking of the fat salary and prestigious job title. But few consider that many lawyers in top firms drop out after a few years due to the high work stress, or that many doctors in hospitals are on call for stretches of 24 hours at a time.

Choosing a career requires quite a bit of trial and error for the majority of people, unless you’re one of the lucky few who can just put your head down and work in any job no matter what it is. The answers aren’t going to come right away, and even when you think you’ve picked the right course to lead you to the right career, you might later decide you want to do something else. And that's completely okay! Learn to roll with the punches and thrive in new situations. You've got a lifetime ahead of you.