Career Advice Is Not The Solution — We Should Be Giving Career Inspiration

Ikigai Network
3 min readOct 10, 2020


Advice and inspiration are not the same thing.


Where should we go for dinner?


How do I get to the Italian restaurant?

Advice implies you already know what you want to do, where you want to go and you just need help getting there. So why do we wonder that young people don’t know what to study or what career to pursue when we have been telling them how to get pasta for the first 20 years of their life.

This is what a hot plate of career advice looks like — fine for those who are in the mood for pasta

What young people need is a broad survey of the options, a smorgasbord of careers, we should be encouraging people to walk around Woolies trying all the samples before they decide what to cook for dinner.

Many schools take a purposefully broad approach. “Let’s keep their options open” or “people with a strong, classical education can succeed at anything” they will say. This might work for some people. Intrinsically motivated folks who love learning for learning’s sake or perhaps competitive people who draw satisfaction from topping the class. But what about the youngster who couldn’t care less about history until she later decides she wants to be a politician or a journalist. Or the one who couldn’t sit still in maths until you put dollar signs in front of the numbers for him. Classical education is also painfully slow to adopt when society changes quickly, technology is a case in point.

What we need to do is give students, recent graduates and those in the early years of their careers a toolbox. Not one to help them get the job they don’t know they want — the test prep, interview prep, guidance courses etc. etc. are already out there. No, we need to expose them to what is possible. Give them a reason to commit to whatever stage of education they are at and put a dollar sign in front of their maths homework for themselves (if that is what gets them going!).

Enter the table of career inspiration

This way we will have more motivated students with real context around why they need to work at school. University students who don’t spend their entire 20’s trying different courses of study because no one was able to give them a better idea. And young people in the workforce who have found what makes them tick and are living better lives because of it.

Ikigai is all about finding the intersection of what you are good at, what you love doing, what the world needs and what you can be paid for. Ikigai Network is bringing that to young people — by providing stories from their peers. How they became pilots and doctors. How they made their decisions. And what they are going to do next. Ikigai Network is the career inspiration that necessarily comes before career advice.