How to Choose a Career
October 4, 2016
One of the most difficult challenges people face is deciding on which career is the right fit for them individually, especially if you’re young with your whole life in front of you.
Many will choose a career path based on what their friends go into while others are pressured by family to pursue a particular craft. However, before you make any concrete choices about your future, you ought to stop and consider what you truly want.
Its a complicated thing to unravel, but failing to do so could lead to a lot of wasted time and money in the pursuit of something that ultimately leaves you unhappy and wanting for more.
How to Choose a Career that’s Right for You:
Step 1: Introspection
Choosing the right career for you begins with knowing yourself, what you truly want out of life, what you need to feel fulfilled, and what you want to achieve in the long-term. Discovering these things about yourself is not an easy thing to do though. Some people struggle for years, looking for the right path to follow, and others have known their whole lives.
Regardless, before pulling the trigger on a major life decision such as this, being sure of yourself is an absolute must. Many have gone through the steps to building a career only to finally land a position and realize that they aren’t happy with what they’re doing. This can leave a person with a feeling of running in place, and ultimately to unhappiness.
Luckily, there are resources out there for you to utilize that can help. Aptitude and personality tests can be found around the web and even offered by university career centers as a method of evaluative your strengths and weaknesses, if you’re not already aware of them.
- What Career is Right for Me?
- The Princeton Review Career Quiz
- GetMyFuture Interest Assessment
- CareerFitter Career Test
- 16Personalities Personality Test
- Psychology Today’s Career Personality & Aptitude Test
Try to be as sure as you can be about what you want out of life and your future before moving forward with any career decision. It can cost a lot, both in time and money, to go back and train for a new career.
Step 2: Explore Your Options
With some careers, there is only one way to get there. For example, if you want to become a physician, you’ll have to complete an undergraduate degree, medical school, and a residency program. However, many lower- and mid-level positions have different paths to completion, so explore all of the options because some will fit more closely with your individual circumstances and the stage of your life.
Discovering your personality type will go a long way to narrowing down your list of potential careers. If you’re very introverted, it would not be wise to pursue a career that hinges upon interacting with the public or otherwise dealing directly with people. However, if you’re extroverted by nature, a position that only interacts with others rarely will not be satisfying you in the long run.
Matching what you do to your nature is the most important aspect of choosing the right career path for you. Beyond that, you should factor in the quality of life you’re aiming for, growth opportunities, family goals, your future work-life balance, and time you want to spend in school into the equation.
Step 3: Seek Advice
Once you’ve narrowed your list of potential careers down to a small list, reach out to those you know with experience in the field, or related experience, and pick their brain. The best kind of advice comes from actually doing the work itself. You can read web articles until you can no long keep your eyes open but, unless they’re written by professionals who’ve already gone through the training required, it likely will not give you the most accurate representation of what the work will be like.
Network first within your established contacts and acquaintances for advice. Social media sites that you participate and are fairly active on are a great place to start searching for like-minded people who’d love to give you their opinion on what they do.
After that, there are a plethora of career forums around the web for every type of job on the market that you can seek out. Find the forums and web communities most relevant to th;e positions you’ve narrowed down to and ask any questions you may have.
Common concerns from students deciding on their future include things like “What type of work environment can I expect?”, “How many hours per week should I expect to work each week?”, “What is the general outlook of other career professionals about the position?”, and “Will this position be in demand for years to come, or is there another, similar job that’ll experience more growth in the future?”
Search for as many opinions on the subject as you can before making a concrete choice. A good approach is to look for the biggest drawbacks of the position you’re considering and decide whether that’s a deal-breaker for you, and use the process of elimination to narrow your list even further.
Step 4: Create a Plan that Works for You
Everybody’s circumstances are different, and yours are definitely something you should take into account. A student who’s about to graduate from high school and looking into colleges has a vastly different set of circumstances than a single mom that needs to further her education, or a mid-level professional who’s had a change of heart about their career and is searching for new options.
With this in mind, be sure that the path you choose is compatible with your current and future situation over the next several years. Someone who works a typical 9-5 throughout the week obviously cannot purse a traditional, in-class college degree. However, educational institutions have continually been adopting new paths for non-traditional students with distance/web learning at the forefront. Others offer night courses and accelerated paths that allow them to complete their education while minimizing any sacrifice they may have to otherwise make with their lives.
Step 5: Execute Your Plan & Reach Your Goals
The logical last step is to put your plan into action! Seek out programs that work well with your individual circumstances, gather the necessary materials for your application, and start your future. Whether you’re a traditional student, take night classes, or are an online distance-learner, be sure to have all of your bases covered. One of the largest being your financial situation. Seek out scholarships and grants specifically for those seeking a career in the field you’ve chosen. Websites like Scholarships.com and FastWeb.com serve to connect students to the funding they need to get by.
If you’re going to school while continuing your career, check into your company and see if they offer a tuition reimbursement program or any other type of assistance, training, or flexibility that will ease any tension in your schedule. Some of these programs require that you work for the company for a set number of years after graduation, however.
Above all else, stay ahead of the curve and plan for things in advance. If you know you’re going to have to continue on for a graduate degree, get started with the admissions exams and process at least 1 year in advance. Taking this approach will save you headaches and ultimately lead to better results in the long run.