How to get a job you love? Get to know yourself!

The saying “Find a job you love and you won’t have to work a day in your life” has become a bit of a social media mantra. But when you’re just starting out, how do you find out what that is? Stacey Dooley talks about her own professional journey, and how a teenager she met recently reminded her that finding a job you love is about finding yourself too.

Leaving school and working out what to do with your life can be quite overwhelming.

I think there can be a lot of pressure, from teachers or parents or your peers, to know exactly what career you want to go into and how to get there. When I was leaving school I honestly didn’t have a clue - I had no idea what career I wanted, and I certainly never expected I would end up on TV!

My own route into a career was pretty unorthodox. Growing up I had a range of different jobs: I started out working at a local café and then, after that, at Luton Airport in retail. I have always loved fashion and I took part in a documentary series about how our clothes are made in India, and the lives of the people who make them.

After the series was broadcast, the controller of the BBC channel contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in presenting a series myself, because it was clear that I was interested in social issues. He said he noticed I was very inquisitive, had a natural empathy, and was quite nosy - all skills you need if you want to be a reporter. Although I had never thought about it before, I realised I did have these qualities, and that I could use them for a career.

Watch The Nine to Five with Stacey Dooley on iPlayer

The ultimate work experience

Now I’ve been in TV for 10 years and I have just finished making a five-part series for the BBC with some truly brilliant teenagers who are all at a similar stage to me all those years ago. They didn’t know what to do after completing their exams and are trying to figure out what jobs are out there and what key skills they have to offer.

Over the space of two weeks they all took part in the ultimate work experience in a range of different industries to try and work out what they should do next. It was incredible to see them trying new things and working out whether this was the place for them.

Sixteen-year-old Skye was one of the five who was the most uncertain about what she wanted to do when we started, and she just didn’t know how to find her place in the workplace. But when she turned up for work experience at a care home in Somerset, all of a sudden Skye just came into her own.

Although she knew she was a patient and caring person, she had never considered that these personality traits can actually be key skills at work.

"There is a job out there for everyone. You just have to find it. I've found mine."

Transferable skills

In the workplace, these are known as transferable skills. Skye really enjoyed the work because caring for others is all about having patience, being understanding and having compassion – and all these things came quite naturally to her.

Thanks to her work experience stint there, she has now gone on to get a full-time job at her local care home, and she hopes to work her way up the ladder.

Find the right fit

Just like Skye, finding your place in the workplace can be about trying out lots of different things until you find the right fit.

Trying different jobs is a great way to get to know yourself and understand what makes you tick. When I took part in my first TV programme, I don’t know if I was fully aware that I was inquisitive and had natural empathy – someone else helped me see it. The tasks you do in a job and how you feel about them, but also the people you work with and what they have to say about you, can give you the most interesting insight into your own personality.

Finding out what you don’t like is just as important, so you don’t keep getting jobs you don’t really want. However, don’t write off something straight away.

There are lots of careers in different industries that you probably don’t even know about yet. So ask around, ask your parents, peers, work colleagues, what they do and what their families do. There’s a lot out there. The world is your oyster – don’t hold back!

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