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From the UIUC subreddit: “Impending Sense of Doom about the Uncertain Future”

On reddit.com/r/uiuc, we were asked:
“What advice do you have for people who have an impending sense of doom about the uncertain future and uncertainty of if they have the required skills to navigate the future?”

 The answer:

(1) Try to uncouple the “impending sense of doom about the uncertain future” from the “uncertainty if they have the required skills to navigate the future.”

(2) There’s no getting around the fact that we’re living in scary times and that much about the future is unstable. That’s not a problem you’re going to fix. Let yourself feel the emotions that go along with that fact and deal with them in whatever nontoxic ways work for you (exercise, video games, binge-ing Netflix, baking, reading, building a blanket fort…).

(3) Do some productive introspection. What do you want YOUR future to look like in this uncertain world? What are your priorities? What kind of difference do you want to be making? What the goals that mean the most to you? An uncertain future may present you with suboptimal choices or pressures that divert you from your intended plans — but having a solid sense of what matters to you, what your values and priorities are, will help you continue moving forward.

(4) Resist the assumption that you know how your skills and the needs (present and future) of the world line up.

  • Look for people doing work you’d like to be doing and see if you can talk to them about how they got there. Generally: talk to people who have experience of the working world. People like to talk about themselves — use that fact to learn more about potential career paths and get advice.

  • Read a lot of job ads — not to find things to apply for, but to better understand what’s out there. If the jobs you like require “five years of experience,” figure out what the entry-level roles are where people get that experience, and look at some job ads for those.

  • Focus on the “requirements” for the jobs that appeal to you. Scroll down to the bulleted list or paragraph that’s labelled requirements and read that part of the ad carefully. Don’t write off as white noise the bullet points that say things about “communication skills” or “teamwork” or “initiative.” Think about what the specific employer means by those terms and how it aligns with the places where you’ve excelled — in your classes, activities, part-time jobs (no matter how menial) and the like.

  • Do some purposeful navel-gazing to better understand your strengths and abilities. Take into account the things that come easily to you as well as things you’ve had to learn. Make use of the self-assessments offered by the Career Center and the Illinois Leadership Center to help you recognize and articulate the strengths you can work bring to the workplace.

  • Make an appointment with The Career Center or the career office for your unit. [Humanities majors can reach out to us by emailing humanitiesprc@illinois.edu or by making an appointment at https://go.illinois.edu/HPRCAdvising.]

(See the whole conversation here.)