Choosing a career—whether you want to switch careers or want to figure out what you want to do for (what seems like) the rest of your life, is nowhere near an easy task. There are so many options, yet it seems like never enough. You don’t know what you’re qualified to do, or if you have the qualifications a company is looking for. Finding and landing your dream career may not be an easy task, but that’s mostly because you’re under the expectation that your dream job will appear right after college, or that you should have known about your dream job all of your life. But don’t worry if you don’t land a job opportunity right after college which exceeds all of your expectations because sometimes it takes a little bit of digging to find your career path.
Experiment: If First You Don’t Succeed…
Did you know that you could end up having as many as 15 to 20 jobs in your lifetime, and this is the “new norm”? Well, lucky for you, experimentation is the best way to get taste of a career. Now, you don’t need to jump from job to job, but when in college, you could have multiple internships each semester (if time permits) to see what interests you the most. Or, spend some time shadowing someone who works in your proposed field.
If your first job out of college bores you to tears, seek another opportunity (respectively, of course). If the week after you begin your new position, you think it’s “not for you,” try and see what it is you can do to make it better. Talk to your supervisor, ask your co-workers, and don’t give up right away. If you find after a little while of working, you can’t even fathom working in that field, then it’s time to start looking!
Forget About It (The Money)
Ok, well don’t forget about it completely, but don’t have it as the main factor. Just because you aspire to work on Wall Street doesn’t mean you should take all finance classes in college. Sure, maybe you really want to live in New York and think it’s not possible unless you’re a big banker. While yes, industries such as information and financial services will likely continue to have the largest wage increases, New York State residents should feel confident that they will continue to have a diversified labor force. So, take your finance classes, but take a few other classes which may interest you as well, if not now, then down the road.
If money is your idea of happiness, think about if the job itself will lead to happiness too. Are you going to be working long hours? Weekends? Will you have any free time to spend with your family? Will you have time to start your own family? If you value your time, take that into account when searching for your career of choice. Working long hours for what seems like a nice salary won’t seem worth it in the long run if you don’t make it home until 9 at night every day.
Be Honest With Yourself
They call it a “dream job” but who really dreams about going to work the next day? Not me! Well, a dream job ideally makes you feel rewarded and recognized for your hard work, passion, and skills, while also keeping you challenged, learning, and engaged. In layman’s terms, a job you look forward to come every Monday.
Consider multiple factors, aside from just the job description. What type of people do you like to work with: extroverts or introverts? What type of product or industry excites you? Is it the unstoppable technology industry? Education? All factor in the process or day-to-day qualities of the job you’re looking for. Do you cherish your downtime where you can unwind after work, or would you enjoy a job that is also a hobby?
Don’t Fear the Unknown: Embrace It!
After college graduation, it may feel or seem like everyone is ready to jump right onto the track for their career. Some have jobs lined up, others are going to keep working at the jobs they held while in college, and others? Others are going to take some time off before jumping into an uncertain career path. It can definitely be easy to feel like you’re the only one left without an offer for an internship or job. But this uncertainty about what lies ahead can actually be a good thing.
Sometimes when you throw yourself into a career, it can be pretty difficult to get out and take time off. Concentrating fully on one career path can make you subconsciously blinded for other opportunities that arise. Take advantage of your uncertainty. Travel. It doesn’t have to be for a while or far away, but just get out of your comfort zone. Meet new people with intriguing backgrounds. You will come out of it with a much better understanding of yourself and the world.
Realize You May Not Have a Dream of a Standard “Dream Job”
Realize that it is totally okay if you don’t have a “dream job.” As in the dating world, a perfect match during your job hunt is rare. Sometimes you stumble upon a job in which you never realized you enjoyed until you started the work. Maybe you didn’t even enjoy the work at first or were unfamiliar with the terrain and got off to a rocky start. That is a-okay!
Research suggests that people who frequently change jobs in their early career have higher incomes, as well as a greater sense of work fulfillment later in life. The key is to see your career path as a learning process.
Nobody is going to instantaneously be great at their job — no matter if it’s entry level or executive level. A new position takes time for growth, and there will always be a learning curve. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not fully settled into your new role when you first start working.
Don’t let your past career hinder your future. Think differently and try other careers or positions that could suit your skills and passion. Seize every chance that comes your way.