Whether you’re just starting your education or you’ve been working hard for several years to finish your degree, choosing a career path can be intimidating. When you find yourself stuck at a fork in the road, how do you choose which career path is right for you?
Obviously, choosing a major will help you narrow down your choices, especially if you decide on something that is very career-specific (like nursing or teaching). On the other hand, some majors give you a variety of paths to choose from (like business or marketing).
No matter how much of your education has been completed, there are a few simple steps that you can take to help you decide on the right career path.
Step 1 - Take Some Tests
In school, you take a lot of tests, but those aren’t the kind of tests we are talking about!
Personality tests and career aptitude tests are an easy and affordable (usually free) way to determine your strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes. Naturally, you want to find a job that you’re good at and that you also love, so taking these sort of tests can be a step in the right direction!
Fran, Hiring Expert at Merck & Co. notes that “an aptitude or personality test can assist you in assessing your own strengths and weaknesses, which could be helpful in focusing on positions that best leverage those strengths.”Ref Link
By identifying these traits, you will be able to look at careers from a new perspective. Are you great at multitasking, love caring for other people, and don’t get the willies around blood? You could start your search in the medical field. Are you creative, innovative, and great at drawing? Maybe your search could start in design.
Step 2 - Get Some Advice
In any other part of your life, if you have a problem or can’t find a solution, you ask for help. This is not any different when it comes to career advice. Especially if you are still working on your degree, you should seek out help from the experts-- the Career Services Office on your campus. It is literally their job to help you find the right job for you!
John, Hiring Expert at Textron says it best:
“Utilize the resources you have at your school, like Career Services.”Ref Link Hector, Hiring Expert at Tenneco suggests looking online for answer. “I learned that many Universities have a portion of their Career Center website dedicated to the question ‘what can I do with my major’. This page lists the career options specific to the major.” In addition, he notes that “if all else fails when searching online, your career center is a phone call away and would love to help you find your career path.”Ref Link
Aside from asking the experts at your school, you can also ask other people who know you for their opinions. Ask them what career they think you would excel at or what they like most about their career choice. Not only will you get a new perspective on potential careers, but you will learn about what others do for a living, which can help you add or eliminate options on your list.
Step 3 - Try it Out
When in doubt, try it out. And by this, we obviously mean looking for internships, volunteer work, and/or freelance work. The best way for you to figure out if you like something is to actually do it!
From Roohi, Hiring Expert at HP, Inc., “I would suggest checking your school’s career page, LinkedIn, Indeed, and other job boards for an internship to give you some hands-on experience, which will help give you more answers choosing the career you’d like to pursue."Ref Link
While internships and volunteer experience are great opportunities, if you are not currently enrolled at a university, it may be more difficult to find opportunities like this. You can always look for entry-level positions, but another option is to find a company with a rotational program.
Ashley, Hiring Expert at Cardinal Health, points out that there are several options outside of completing an internship. “If you don’t know what field you are interested in, it may be worth it to take some additional classes, outside of your main focus. If you know the career field you are interested in, a rotational program is a great option. This would allow you to explore different positions within the same company and determine which ones you enjoy/don’t enjoy.”Ref Link
Adding it All Up
Each of these steps has the ability to work independently; however, your chances for finding the right career will increase significantly when you combine all three.
Choosing a career comes down to knowing yourself, researching your options, and finding opportunities that are a good fit for you. Seeking the advice of others along the way will only aid in that process, and at the end of it, you will be settled into a career that you love!