Choosing a career is a big decision that will affect your life for many years to come. It’s important to take your time and chose what is right for you. A good place to begin is by creating a list of your interests. Add things to your list that you already do well. There are many ways to use the skills you already have to make a living. Because different career areas can require you to do very different things, be sure to explore the requirements of careers you are considering. No one wants to begin preparing for a career only to discover that they will be asked to compromise their values. Another important consideration is your goals. What do you want to accomplish in your chosen career? If you begin your career search with all these things in mind, sorting through the thousands of opportunities available to you will be much easier than attempting to explore every possible opportunity.
When you identify an interesting job or career area, do more than just read the description. In addition to accommodating your interests, values, and goals, you should be comfortable in the workplace. Talking to people in different careers, pursuing internships, attending summer camps and job shadowing can all give you a better understanding of what it’s like to be involved in specific occupations. Your research will begin to uncover differences in the occupations on your list that will help you chart a career path. Things like job satisfaction, work-life balance, salary and opportunities for advancement will begin to emerge when researching career options. You should also be aware of how you are expected to dress, where you will need to live, whether you are isolated or expected to interact with many people, the level of education required, how much continuing education will be required and the job outlook for the career area.
I know that researching careers seems to have far too many moving parts but that is why it should become a part of who you are. This doesn’t mean that all your time should be spent researching careers. It does mean that you should be aware of the people you come in contact with and what they do to earn a living. Even after you find your perfect job your interests, skills, knowledge and abilities will improve and change. These changes may qualify you for a different job or career area that is even more attractive. Don’t be afraid of change. Statistics show that this generation will change careers multiple times over the course of their lives.
Choosing a career has become a journey, not a destination. It’s important to be flexible and open to change. Focus on careers that bring you joy and that you’re good at. If you can regularly wake up thinking, “I get to go do this for a living” instead of “I have to go do this for a living” you are in the right place.