There is no doubt that choosing a career is an overwhelming undertaking. With so many choices, how could anyone ever decide? Here are some simple steps to get you thinking about your future goals and endeavors.
1. Evaluate yourself
Gauge your values, interests, soft skills, aptitudes, and personality traits. By taking into account these vital qualities, you will have a better sense of which occupations will fit you perfectly! You could try taking one of the many career tests online, visiting your school counselor, or exploring your campus career center. No matter if you are in high school or college, there are plenty of resources to assist with career exploration.
2. Make a list of occupations to explore
No matter how long the list or how diverse, write down all the careers you are considering. With each occupation, be sure to research job descriptions, look up education/training/licensing requirements, and use government-produced labor market information. Often times, careers turn out to be much different than the way you imagine them in your mind. By doing a bit of research, you can realistically view each path for what it’s worth.
3. Experience the world
Explore your surroundings as much as you can. Where to start? Take different classes, travel to far off places, meet new people, and try unusual things. In doing so, you will get a sense of all the possibilities the world has to offer. The more you participate in your life, the closer you will be to pinpointing what you want to do.
4. Take advantage of opportunities that come your way
Whether it be a chance to freelance with the valuable skills you obtained through your graphic design class or an opportunity to conduct research with your favorite professor… go for it! Internships are also a prime way to look for career inspiration. Embarking on this journey could help you test out an entire industry and give you a taste of the working world you may be in after you graduate.
5. Conduct informational interviews
When you narrow down your list, take the next step in choosing your potential career. Meet with people who work in similar fields and ask questions. Be sure to network not just through your own connections, but through LinkedIn, too. Use each meeting as a chance to ask tons of questions and get a feel for the position through the people who actually do it for a living. We know it can be scary to put yourself out there, but the only way to overcome those feelings is to just go for it. When you’re ready, you can take it one step further and shadow someone as they work. It’s one thing to hear about a career, and an entirely different perspective to experience it!
6. Make a plan
Once you decide on a position that suits you, compose a (flexible) plan that will outline the ways you can achieve the career of your dreams. When you set your goals, make sure that they are driven by your deepest wishes for the future rather than the expectations of others. Write down all your aspirations (short term and long term), and include each step that will get you closer to those achievements. Include anticipated outcomes and obstacles that may come your way. This will give you a chance to foresee potential complications and brainstorm solutions.
With these tips, you will have a starting point when it comes to choosing a career path. Keep in mind that nothing is set in stone. If there ever comes a time that you aren’t passionate about your work, you always have the liberty to change your direction.