Developing Your Niche (Part One): Start As You Mean To Go On
Last month we wrote about why it’s good to start looking for jobs early as well as the importance of pursuing your passion, both in life and in your career. Now it is September… so what’s next? With Back to School promotions hanging from shop windows and workers returning from holidays, it’s not difficult to notice that the summer is slowly drawing to a close and our schools, universities, and offices are already beckoning us back. The drawing board has been wiped clean and is waiting to be scrawled upon with ideas once again…
Far from being a sad state of affairs, September, in particular, is a month that can positively influence the rest of the year. When I was just 11 years old, the beginning of September marked my entrance into secondary education. I remember how my mother left me at the school gates with tears in her eyes as she watched me walk into an exciting, new and also slightly scary stage of my life. During my first day at secondary school, there was an assembly in which the Deputy Headteacher gave a rousing speech to encourage us to make the most of our schooling careers. To this day, I still remember the sound advice he gave us:
START AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON.
As a pupil, this meant starting this new stage of my academic career with the best intentions and commitment to complete everything to the best of my abilities. Now that I have long since surpassed this stage and stepped onto the employment ladder, this phrase which continues to echo in my mind seems to have taken on a new meaning. No longer does it simply correspond to doing my best (although this is undoubtedly still important) but rather, to establishing how to start my career in a way that I can ultimately find my niche.
“Niche” according to the Oxford English Dictionary can be defined as:
1. “A comfortable or suitable position in life or employment”
Life is never simple and we can sometimes find ourselves in difficult and unfortunate circumstances. However, by making good decisions at the start of your career, you will be more likely to end up in a job that is not only enjoyable but reflects what you were looking for, to begin with. There is nothing more painful than being stuck in a place that is neither coherent with your core values nor makes you feel like you belong.
In order to find your niche, a job that is both comfortable and suitable, there are three key questions that I would recommend you to ask yourself today:
1. What is my talent?
2. What industry do I want to work in?
3. What is it that motivates me?
If you are the type of person who is not motivated by money but ends up in a job that pays a lot but doesn’t bring any satisfaction, you will soon start to realise that perhaps it’s not the right job after all. As the saying goes, money does not buy happiness. Equally, you may find yourself in a job with too little money after discovering that what motivates you is that very thing.
Alternatively, you could find yourself in the right industry but the wrong department, or the right department but the wrong industry. You may even find yourself in a job that is completely unsuited to your particular skills and talent. In the words of the famous physicist, Albert Einstein:
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”
It is important therefore to think carefully about what you want from each job and whether it is going to help you in your career. By answering these three questions, you are already closer to the point of discovering where your niche lies, which is ultimately going to help you stand out from the crowd. Stay tuned for the Developing Your Niche (Part Two) which will take a look at another meaning of the word “niche”. In the meantime, check our jobs page to see if you find something suitable!
by Catherine Rowland
Sep 4, 2014 by The ELJ Team