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  What Should I Do with My Life (How to Pick a Career Path and Keep Your Options Open)

What Should I Do with My Life (How to Pick a Career Path and Keep Your Options Open)

Oh, the eternal question on the minds of most recent college graduates and many juniors and seniors. While this inevitable and demanding quandary presents itself to you in your early twenties, you can rest assured that you do not have to answer it right away. In fact, a large problem many young adults encounter is trying to select a career path immediately for the wrong reasons.

Here are some common misconceptions popular amongst recent grads and soon-to-be-grads:

  • My first job will establish the way the rest of my jobs will result
  • If I don't go straight to graduate or professional school, then I'll never go
  • I can't select a career path, I'll just go to law school
  • I want to go to medical school because my parents want me to go to medical school
  • I must select one career now and stick with it for the rest of my life

Obviously, these fears continue in many shapes and forms. It is important to realize that they are all ludicrous. While your fears may contain some of these thoughts, times are changing and people are all different. No longer is the world run by one-sided old businesses. The profitable careers are switching from medicine and politics to IT and corporate law. Money is not stable, nor will you always find that one job with the best security for eternity. While it is true that some careers will provide you with more financial security and freedom than others, the strongest way to select a career path is by interest and desire. What will make you happy for the rest of your days?

Here are some important facts to remember when embarking upon the "job/career search:"

  • You can always change jobs
  • You can always change careers
  • You can always go back to school after a long time away
  • You can pursue as many degrees as you desire
  • You should not worry what other people think of you when you begin your job search
  • You should let several factors dictate your decision, not just one

Before you make a quick decision, perhaps for the wrong reasons (money, parents, romantic relationship), use our Schedule to determine what career path is best for you. We are not marking specific times or dates by when you should have made a career decision. We know that many people embark upon internships for their careers during summers before Junior and Senior years of college. This is a good start. However, if you have no experience prior to graduation, you will not be left in the back.

Schedule of Career Decisions

  1. Talk to a career counselor
  2. Look at your extra-curricular hobbies
  3. Assess how much they mean to you. Are they hobbies or are they passions that you dream about pursuing?
  4. If they are hobbies, then you must look elsewhere for career fulfillment. If they are passions, then begin the career track with Step 5.
  5. Research the specific career in your college's job center library. Discuss it with a counselor, discuss it with qualified professors in the field.
  6. Find a summer job or internship in that field. Make sure you get a written reference from that job.
  7. Continue for your summers. Try to secure a job in that field in college part time.
  8. Build a resume during your senior year in school and have someone else look over it.
  9. Go to career fairs for that field and hand out copies of your resume.
  10. Follow up with employers you have contacted and submit you resume.
  11. If you are persistent enough, you will secure a job in that field.
  12. Perhaps you thought you liked that particular field. You got the job after college, but find yourself miserable every day.
  13. Assess whether or not you dislike the field because of the entry-level position you have, or whether or not you dislike the field because it is a bad match for your skills and personality.
  14. Look at your skills and hobbies. Look at your grades and major in school to see where you excelled. Try a job in one of those fields. Follow steps 1-11.
  15. Again, if you are unhappy, you should speak with a professional career guidance counselor or your family members or friends about your options. If you have spent ten years or more hopping around to different jobs to find one you like then you probably are unsure of your overall career goals.

Perhaps you have no specific career goals and simply want a job that pays your bills. You will not be too concerned with this guide, for you will care little about the position you attain. Perhaps you simply want to be a mother or father. Perhaps you know ahead of time that you want to dive directly into medical, law, or graduate school. You are one of the lucky few who know exactly what he or she wants. Congratulations.

In this day of transforming economy and alternating careers, people are living longer, forming greater interests, and are involved in more than one large career. Many musicians are also writers, many actors also directors, many doctors go on to law school, and many lawyers also go on to business school. While in the past, it may have appeared that you do not know what you want by switching around so much. Now, people look highly upon diverse individuals with a wide variety of skills to bring to a job. Just be careful you are not switching around so much, even you don't know what you want anymore.