Tips for choosing a career


You may love the smell of new textbooks. You may jump for joy when you’re assigned a term paper. You might have book bags, highlighters, and pens in every color. But no matter how much you love college, at some point, you’ll need to use the skills you learn here to transition to your chosen career. That’s kind of the whole point, right?

And that’s the part that may have you stumped.

Relax. Choosing a career is an important life decision, but it’s not an irreversible one. People change careers all the time. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Baby Boomers hold on average about 11.5 jobs in their lifetimes. And trying a few careers can actually help you decide which one is for you. Realizing that your choice does not have to be permanent can take a lot of the pressure out of the decision.

So, where do you start?

Begin by asking yourself what you love to do. When are you happiest? When you’re outside? Solving problems? Playing with kids? Meeting new people? Write down what you enjoy doing and use the list as a starting point. 

Then, identify careers that match those interests. Skills tests, like the RIASEC/Holland interest scale, can help you determine your strengths, and interests, and skills. Once you have a few potential career areas in mind, research them. Use resources such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook to check out pay, necessary education, job conditions, and most importantly, career outlook for specific jobs within those fields. Follow that up with face-to-face meetings. Talk with anyone who has been or is in those fields to get a better idea of what they’re like day-to-day. Job shadowing and internships can give you an even clearer picture of what those jobs entail.

Keeping these tips in mind should help take some of the stress out of choosing a career. Look for jobs you love, know your strengths and skills, and research as much as you can. Once you have a career in mind, your college course load will have more purpose, and all those notes and tests will be steps towards a clear goal.

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