Deciding On A Career Or Study Path? Focus On The Process, Not The Product

Young people have all heard the advice that it's great to get a career in a field that you enjoy. As a result, many focus on the wrong part of that advice.

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It's how we get vague phrases like "I want to get into movies." You might like movies. You might love movies. But that passion is actually not enough to get you through an entire career before you reach a stage when you feel like you should like your job, but actually want out. Then, there's guilt involved as well.

I regularly talk to people who are keen to get into video games, purely because they love video games. It seems like a logical conclusion. But the field contains vastly different skills, which will appeal to different personality types. Programming carries a very different work day than art, design, or production.

You might not want to live your life by the crunch-heavy, multi-year cycles of payoff that most developers do. You might not want to join a massive studio and make nothing but virtual chairs for a living, or you might not want the pressure of wearing multiple hats at an independent studio. And you wouldn't be the first to discover the entire industry just wasn't for them. There's nothing wrong with it, and the time certainly isn't wasted — but hopefully you can avoid yourself some pain.

In short, you might love the end product, but you might hate the process of making it. And even though there's usually an entire industry around it, you might just not like any of those roles. I like eating, but would loathe working in hospitality.

If you can find anyone who works in the field (not too hard with the internet), asking them a few questions about what their day-to-day is like could be invaluable. What are their favourite and least favourite tasks? To what extent are they free to leave and switch off at a certain time? What tangential jobs are they occasionally pulled away to do? What does helping other people around them look like? What does general success in the role look like?

After that, ask yourself, are these things I genuinely enjoy doing? Is it something I need to try before committing a few years to?


    The government's website is great for this. It allows you to look up all sorts of information such as daily tasks, payscales and pathways into various careers.

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