Whether you’re about to graduate from college or just getting ready to declare a major, it’s scary not knowing exactly what you want to do with your life. It’s even scarier when you feel like everyone is pressuring you to choose a career. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin when it comes to picking a career, you’re not alone. We’re here to help! Take a deep breath and check out our list of 10 great tips for choosing a career.
10 Tips for Choosing a Career
1. Know Your Work Style
Your work style influences your ability to thrive in certain careers.
For example, if you’re someone who tends to procrastinate, a career where you report directly to another individual will most likely be better than one where you’re left to your own devices for large parts of the day.
Think about the jobs you’ve had in the past.
Which ones did you excel at and which ones did you struggle with? Did you like being able to set your own schedule and work independently? Or did you need to have a more hands-on supervisor keeping you accountable?
There are, of course, other factors that affect your job performance. But, your natural work style plays a big role.
2. Identify Your Skills
Every career requires a different skill set. Sales managers need great leadership skills, and teachers need to be able to communicate effectively with both students and parents.
Take some time to figure out what you’re good at. List every talent and skill you have, even if it doesn’t seem like it will help you get a job.
Knowing every skill that you have – even ones that don’t seem particularly marketable – can help you find a career that you’ll enjoy and be good at.
For example, being good at video games might not seem like a marketable skill. But dig a little deeper.
What exactly are you good at when it comes to video games? Creative problem-solving? Decision-making?
These are important skills that can apply to a number of different careers.
3. Determine Your Goals
What do you want out of a career?
Do you want to help other people? Do you want to travel? How much money do you want to make?
If you’re pursuing a career that doesn’t align with your long-term goals, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever feel truly satisfied with it.
Of course, goals change over time, and things that were once extremely important become less so. It’s still good to have an idea of what you want so that you have something to work toward.
4. Understand Your Values
Of all the tips for choosing a career, thinking about what you value in a job is one of the most important.
Do you love working independently, or do you need social interaction throughout the day to feel fulfilled?
Is it important for you to spend time with your family and be home at a certain hour every day? Or are you fine with working overtime and having a more unpredictable schedule?
Really think about these questions and pass over any careers that won’t match up with the things you value most.
5. Do the Math
You’ll also have to do some math and think about the amount of time and money it will take for you to get where you want to go.
How much education is required for you to get your dream career? Are you willing and able to put in that time and the money that comes with it?
6. Remember that Things Can Change
There are a million “Best Careers” lists out there that will say you should strive for a certain career because you’re guaranteed to make a certain amount of money with it.
However, there’s no way to totally guarantee job security and stability. There might be a lot of demand for a job now, but what about in 10 years?
You don’t have to completely disregard predictions about the outlook for a certain job. But don’t choose a job just because it’s number one on a list somewhere.
Things can change over time, and the job that was once number one might end up not even making the list a few years from now.
7. Talk to People Who Work in the Field
Talking with someone who is already working in the field you’re considering can be extremely helpful. If you can meet with multiple people, that’s even better.
A 15-minute interview can tell you a lot about a specific career.
Ask questions about the pros and cons of the job, whether or not the person would choose it if they could go back in time, and what kinds of skills they’ve found to be most beneficial.
Job shadowing can be just as, if not more, beneficial.
Following someone around for a day is kind of like getting a glimpse into your future. You’ll get a good idea of whether or not you actually want to do the same work that this person is doing, which can help solidify your decision about a future career.
8. Consider an Internship
An internship is another way to get hands-on experience to help you decide if a certain career is right for you. There’s nothing more realistic than actually doing the work you’re thinking about dedicating your life too!
An internship can also help you get a foot in the door at a company you really want to work for. One study found that 52 percent of interns get offered a full-time position with the company they were working for!
9. Use Your Resources
If you’re currently in college, you probably have access to a career counselor who can help you decide what career would be best for you. This counselor can give you tips for choosing a career, help you apply for internships, and put you in contact with someone to interview or shadow.
There are also lots of options online that can help you narrow down your choices.
10. Be Flexible
When you’ve invested a lot of time and money into training for a certain career, it can be hard to admit that you aren’t actually interested in it.
A lot of people end up unsatisfied because they stuck with a career path just because they didn’t want to feel like they’d wasted all the time they spent preparing for it.
Remember, it’s never too late to start over if you’re not happy with the path you’re currently on.
Look at the big picture. A couple of extra years in school will be worth it if they help you get to a career you truly love instead of one that you can only tolerate.
If you’re considering switching paths and setting your sites on a new career, work through these tips and figure out what will really satisfy you.