Deciding your career path: Tips for the undecided. 

It is not necessary to know your career path just yet. There is a lot of pressure put on young people to decide upon a career field before starting their first year of higher education. In reality, people of all ages continue to struggle with these decisions. 

Questioning what you plan to do or be when you’ve “grown up” can cause anxiety, confusion, frustration. Don’t let it. Instead, remember that your life and college experience is meant for learning academically, professionally, and personally. Consider opportunities that reveal your skills, interests, dislikes, and areas of improvement. 

Your career aspirations, goals, and interests may change from year to year, and that’s okay!You do not need to know exactly where you want to go because your life experiences will lead you. Instead of pressuring yourself to make a “final decision”, take the first step to understanding that nothing is permanent. 

Whether you are trying to pick a college major, or a career path after college graduation, take the time to learn more about yourself, the world around you, and what you can do in the world.  Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Stay in tune with yourself.
    1. Take a moment to recognize your likes and dislikes. What classes or roles did you enjoy? Have you participated in projects that inspired you? Often, we go through the motions of daily routines without reflection. This passive behavior tends to push some into a role or career based on income or skill. Though being good at something or making lots of money can contribute to your career path decision, ultimately these factors do not relate to your passions or interests.  Be in tune with what you like and what you dislike. Keep a journal to write down the little things you discover about yourself to use as a personal guide.
  2. Connect with Working Professionals
    1. There’s only so much you can learn from a job description on the internet. Learn from those in the profession. Create a list of companies or fields that interest you and reach out to professionals within or related to your list. Whether it’s someone you know or a connection through LinkedIn, start a conversation with them. Ask questions regarding their position.  In the end, if you don’t like what they do, they may be able to lead you to a career path that may be a better fit.
  3. Job Shadow
    1. Job shadowing is a great way to learn about specific roles and career paths. Immersing yourself in the environment of a profession can help you get a feel for what the job is like. Try job shadowing in multiple environments as each company is different.
  4. Take Introductory Classes
    1. If you are in your beginning years of college, take introductory courses in fields you are interested in. These courses give an overview of the career field and a glimpse of what to expect with the related degree.
  5. Get Involved
    1. Look for opportunities to gain experience in the career fields you are interested in. Internships, clubs, and organizations offer many ways to further involve yourself. One of the best ways to discover what you like and what you dislike, is by actually immersing yourself in the experience. Whether you are in high school or college, there are many opportunities to get involved. Join the school paper. Write for a student media group. Volunteer for the local animal shelter. Seek out opportunities to get involved and take on roles. You will learn so much about yourself through those positions.

In the end, your career path is exactly that: a path. There is no one way to get to where you want to go, and every experience will lead you to the next. Keep your eyes open, learn as much as you can, and go where your heart leads you.