Advice on Choosing Your Career

What do you want to be when you grow up? If you still don’t know the answer to that question as you’re preparing to head off to college, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Plenty of college freshmen are in the same boat. But while you’re not required to have your career mapped out to start college, you should definitely be thinking about your career path in order to make the most of your college years. Try these steps to get started.

Take An Honest Look in the Mirror

Think realistically about your personality and what type of work will keep you happy and satisfied.

  • Weigh your hobbies and interests. Do you have an interest you’d consider pursuing as a career? What do you get out of your hobbies – are they an outlet for creativity or competition, or an opportunity to help others? Look for a career that can give you that same satisfaction.
  • Take stock of your talents and skills. Do you have a head for numbers? A flair for words? What are your best subjects in school? Investigate careers that let you put your natural abilities to use.
  • Consider a career/personality assessment. If you need some help figuring out the type of work you’re best suited for, talk to a career counselor or take a self-assessment test. For students in high school, ask your counselor if the school offers any self-assessment tests.

Learn What’s Out There

There are more career options out there than you can imagine. Learn about as many as possible to help pinpoint the one for you.

  • Talk to friends and family. Ask anyone and everyone you know about what they do. What do they love – and hate – about their career? What is their average day like? What does it take to be successful in their field?
  • Browse college course catalogs and degree programs. Look at lists of available majors and see what sparks your interest. See what classes are required for different degree programs to get a feel for the knowledge and training you’ll need.
  • Take introductory classes. Once you’re on campus, use your elective requirements to explore careers that interest you. Classes with “Intro To” or “101” in the course title are a great way to test the waters.

Give Yourself Some Flexibility

Deciding on a future career isn’t something you can or should do overnight.

  • Keep your options open. Chances are good you’ll change majors at least once before college graduation, so choose a college with several degree programs that interest you in case you decide to switch gears.
  • Relax. Choosing a career is an important decision, but it’s not necessarily a permanent one. In fact, statistics show the average American changes careers several times over the course of their life. So find a career that feels right for you now, but remember that as you grow and change in the years ahead your career interests may very well change too.