At the ripe old age of 18, humans are launched into the world, expected to formulate a life path without any guidance. Some people choose to go to college, and are catapulted into the competitive universe of academia. From pre-meds to business bros, you are effectively drowning in a sea of potential careers. How are you supposed to know which one is right for you? Likewise, trade schools demand that you immediately select a life path, as you spend years mastering a specific skill.
Society encourages us to follow our passions -within reason- to create a productive, financially viable career. But what if you simply lack such resolute direction? That’s completely normal! It is healthy to explore your options prior to determining your life goals. Fortunately, our paths are not set in stone, and it is never too late to change your mind. Don’t confine yourself to a miserable career for the sake of economic stability or practicality; you deserve a fulfilling occupation. That being said, very few people have jobs that are 100% fun, 100% of the time. The goal is to find a career that physically and mentally satisfies you. This endeavor can be more complicated than it seems. Where does one begin the search for their career soulmate? Below, I’ve listed some handy tips for exploring your options, and identifying your personal ambitions.
1. Browse careers on indeed.com!
Although I am still a meager college student, this one is my absolute favorite! I love perusing job listings in my area. After typing in my location and broad interests, I select jobs, read the requirements, and scan the descriptions. I find that my mind is instinctively attracted to stimulating, creative, and largely independent careers. This resource also allows you to understand the skills you will need to apply for certain occupations. For instance, numerous social media jobs require a background in Adobe Illustrator and Web Design. A job in the medical field may demand specific training. It is important to understand the prerequisites of your dream job in order to make an informed decision.
2. Apply for internships.
The best way to understand your preferences and interests is to gain real world experience. Internships directly immerse you in a professional field, where you can hone your skill set, and develop a deeper insight into an occupation. Personally, I have found entry level internships to be formative in my career ambitions, as I have discovered tasks I enjoy, as well as jobs I detest. Knowing what you hate is just as important as knowing what you love! That being said, it is important to recall that internships are low level positions. You may not passionately cherish every mundane task. It is critical to be perceptive and self-motivated in order to genuinely understand the field you are in. Observe your superiors, and ask yourself if you would enjoy doing their job.
3. Take career quizzes.
While this one may seem a bit silly, I promise it helps! Career quizzes assess your personality, interests, and ambitions to formulate a set of potential jobs. No, this doesn’t mean if a website tells you to become an accountant, that is now your destiny. However, these quizzes can provide inspiration and direction for your internship hunt. It never hurts to explore potential options!
4. Use your community as a resource!
One of the best ways to understand the ups and downs of any job is talking with a person in the field. Reach out to neighbors, friends, parents’ friends, and family members, and ask them about their careers! Oftentimes, there are hidden benefits and disadvantages to a job that only a worker could truly appreciate. Listen attentively to their personal experience, but don’t let it completely sway you in a certain direction. For instance, you may chat with a nurse who adores her job, but you are afraid of blood. If you faint at the slightest inkling of gore, nursing is probably not the profession for you. On the flipside, a friend may detest her job in finance because of an overbearing boss. This doesn’t mean you will experience the same conditions! Absorb the information expressed to you, and utilize it to make an informed, practical career decision.
Overall, it is vital to maintain an open mind when embarking upon your job-hunting journey. The world can be quite overwhelming, with an endless swarm of potential careers and opportunities. Always remember that there is no timeline on success. You don’t need to be the CEO of your startup company by age 25. In fact, you don’t need to know ANYTHING by age 25! As human beings, we are constantly evolving, growing, and learning through time. New experiences provide us with novel insight into our own desires. Don’t feel obliged to plan your life story by tomorrow. Be patient with yourself, invest time in exploring your options, and I promise, things will turn out just fine.
Written by: Brianna Rauchman