To me, it would seem more credible to get these tips from some successful gal who got her degree in less than 4 years & now works the job of her dreams (AKA: My Best Friend, Amanda) – but that’s not me. In fact, I’m nowhere near that. But what I do have, however, is some knowledge (due to painful hours of research) on where to start looking when searching for your right career path.
Try not to hurry this big life decision. Try not to jump into a degree program you might later regret. Your academic advisor can help you design a flexible schedule in case you aren’t quite sure what you want to do yet. I have about two and a half years of college credits and I’m still trying to decide which area of study I will graduate with. I am at a stalemate.
Here’s my advice to you: Map out a plan & then pursue your dream. I swear it will save you a lot of grief in the long run. Don’t be the person with enough credits to graduate, but only half of them will go toward the degree you finally decided on. I was very close to that happening to me. Spend a little time soul searching on what kind of career you want for the rest of your life. Maybe you’ll find yourself on a whole different path, in a good way.
Here are some tips that I’ve accumulated from teachers, friends, and websites throughout the years:
1. Talk to a Career Counselor.
I know it sounds lame but it is extremely helpful. Almost every college has a free Career Counselor that you can make an appointment with, just look it up in Student Services. They will be able to give you resources and ideas specifically geared toward your situation.
2. Decide what truly makes you happy.
If helping people gives you a warm fuzzy feeling inside, look for a job in human services. If you are passionate about health and fitness, look into the organic food industry or maybe medicine. Everyone gets satisfaction from different things, and finding what makes you happy is the root to finding a rewarding career.
3. Figure out your priorities.
Imagine yourself on your death bed – what do you want to show for your life’s work? Will you regret not taking that job across the country? Will you wish you had made more time for your family? Consider these things during your job search.
4. Take online Career Quizzes.
These quizzes will do a lot of the work for you. There are many different quizzes and tests online, and they will take your personality, skills, likes, dislikes, and lifestyle into account while giving you the best career options. The more you take, the more results you get, giving you ideas that you may not have considered (or even heard of). Here are links to a couple of my favorite quizzes to start:
-Career Test Center: Scroll to the bottom, click “Take the Test”. After you click “Results” read your four letter personality type (I’m INFP) and click on “Description”. Then click on your personality type. Here it will describe your results and list recommended careers for your personality type. This is based on a very popular personality test used by many career counselors.
-What Career Is Right For Me? Click “Start the career test now.” Complete the four steps & fill out as much as you can for the best results. Click “Finish and Get Your Careers” and on the next page it will list the best fitting careers based on your answers.
5. Talk to people working in the fields you are interested in.
And ask questions. This is a very important step. Reach out to anyone who has experience in the field you are pursuing and they may tell you ground breaking info you never heard or thought of before (good & bad). Maybe they will have more insight on where that particular career is heading in the near future, or if the pay isn’t sustainable, or if the job is too stressful/very rewarding. Remember to take into account that everyone has different opinions and priorities, so talk to a few different people, if possible.
6. Volunteer or apply for an internship in your chosen career path.
For example, I wanted to be a journalist back in high school, so I interned at the local newspaper over the summer and realized it wasn’t for me. I hate having constant deadlines and journalism is just one huge deadline, day after day. I ignored my gut instinct and ended up in a college taking classes I didn’t enjoy, that probably won’t end up going toward my final degree. Long story, short: volunteer or intern at a workplace that you are interested in so you can see the day-to-day routine. If you end up hating it, at least you won’t be stuck doing it for the rest of your life.
7. Don’t be afraid to switch jobs or degrees.
Don’t force yourself to carry on in a direction that leaves you unsatisfied. Reexamine what you want out of life and pursue what will really make you happy. It’s better late than never.
“The only goal you can’t accomplish is the one that you don’t go after.”