Which situation would you rather experience? Working for a company you admire, fully utilizing your skills, building life-long friendships, and having the opportunity to grow professionally, OR hating your job, spending most of your waking hours bored, frustrated, and stressed out, and working for an employer you don’t care for, where you’re not rewarded for a job well done?
Obviously the first situation is the right answer, but, unfortunately, far too many people get stuck in a job or career rut.
Often, people end up with career misery because they don’t do their homework. Choosing your major and career should be one of the most fully researched decisions of your life, yet not everyone approaches it this way. Doing your homework on these four steps will help you select a well-suited career.
Step 1: Conduct a comprehensive self-assessment. This involves taking an honest and objective inventory of your:
- Interests and passions
- Skills and aptitudes
- Lifestyle and workplace preferences
- Willingness and ability to obtain the necessary qualifications
Step 2: Develop a list of potential careers that align with the above four areas. Meet with admissions counselors and professors. Attend career fairs. Review the recommendations from any aptitude tests you’ve completed. Meet with actual practitioners in each career area to gain invaluable inside scoop. Speak with others who know you best to gain their perspectives.
Step 3: Investigate the demand outlook for the careers you’re considering. Research which careers are experiencing strong job growth and which majors will qualify you. For every major you’re considering, thoroughly evaluate the employment prospects for their respective careers. If the job outlook is weak, go elsewhere. Have frank conversations with the college Department Heads regarding the employment outcomes of recent graduates. How many found work in their field?
Step 4: Seek out work-study, internship, and job shadowing opportunities to get a taste of what the career is like. This will provide a firsthand reality check and either confirm or reject your preliminary conclusions.
Once you complete this four-step process, you’ll have narrowed down your major/career choices to a few finalists. Don’t be surprised, though, if your thinking changes as you take more advanced classes and learn more about that career. After all, most college students change their major at least once. I did twice!
A great research tool is the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, which you can find at www.bls.gov/oco. On this site you will find the descriptions for hundreds of occupations, in addition to their education and training requirements. Also listed are average earnings and future projections for growth in each profession. Need help starting to identify which jobs and careers might be a good fit for you? Also check out this website: http://www.bls.gov/k12/index.htm. It’s called, “What Do You Like?” and can help you narrow down your options based on your own interests.
Parents, youth mentors, and educators: Please consider sharing this email with the career-bound students in your life. Use it as a bridge to opening conversations about life direction, career options, and preparation for life as an adult. Then feel free to share your comments and testimonials with our online community; we’d love to hear your thoughts!