What do you want to be when you grow up? The age-old question...
That question can be intimidating to students when they believe that there is only one PERFECT career out there for them, and if they don't discover what that is, they will be stuck in unhappiness for the rest of their lives. Eeeek!!
Let's re-frame the thought process behind career exploration before we even talk about the steps for choosing a career. Consider the following points:
- There are multiple careers/jobs that you would be good at, not just ONE.
- Regardless of the career path you choose, you will not be "stuck" there for the rest of your life. You will likely make several career changes in your lifetime; so, think of this as choosing your starting career, not necessarily your lifelong career.
- Remember: happiness does not come from what career you have. Although there are jobs that you would enjoy more than others (and that's definitely something to consider when choosing your career goal), you have the ability to choose happiness as your mindset regardless of your job. You can find joy in whatever job you have if you decide to do so.
Okay, so now that we have that out of the way, let's discuss the steps you can follow to choose a career path. I don't have a "magic formula", but if you're willing to embrace the three points above and put in some time, I'm sure you can find a career path that would be a good choice for you!
Step One - Get to Know Yourself. That sounds weird, probably, but knowing about yourself is the first step in knowing what you would enjoy, what you are good at, etc. Here are some resources for you as you complete this step in the process:
Career Cluster Interest Survey 2.pdf - This is a printable survey to help you see which career cluster you are most interested in. (There are 16 career clusters, and if you know which cluster is your top interest, that will give you a good starting point for exploring careers.)
www.mynextmove.org - This site allows you to explore your interests if you have no idea what your career path should be. (There are also options to explore if you have somewhat of an idea or even know exactly already.)
Personality Test - This is an online personality test. Learning about your personality is a big part of getting to know yourself!
Work Values Test - Here is an online test that helps you determine what you value in a career/workplace. Your career path could be greatly affected by how much you value security, harmony, or wealth, for example.
Learning Styles Inventory - This is just what it says - an inventory to determine what your learning style is. Obviously, this can help you be successful now in your classes, not just in the future!
Aptitude Test - Aptitude tests are designed to measure what you are good at. Obviously, this is something important to consider before deciding on a career path. However, keep in mind that your aptitude is not set in stone; if you work at developing a skill/ability, you can improve it!
Step Two - Narrow Your Options. Use what you've learned about yourself through the resources above to start looking at what areas of jobs might be a suitable fit for you. Looking first at the career cluster(s) that seem to interest you is a good place to start. From there, you can begin looking at specific careers within that cluster.
Career Clusters Activity - This site will allow you to go through another quick inventory to see which cluster matches your interest if you want to double-check from your investigation above. Or, you can simply click "Just show me the results" and explore the cluster(s) that you are interested in.
Career Cluster Videos - There are videos available that give you visual information about the career clusters. Take some time to watch them and think about what you might like (or dislike) about different careers. (There is an overview video of the cluster in general as well as videos over specific careers in that cluster.)
Career Interview Questions -- Ask questions of people in the job field(s) you are considering! This could be some of your most valuable information. This document is a list of questions that you can ask to find out more about what life is like working in a particular job. If you have the opportunity, work out a day to job shadow someone in the career field you are researching.
Reality Check - This is a great site for checking to see of your expectations for your standard of living match your projected income (important to know).
Texas Career Check - This is a fabulous site for exploring careers from top to bottom, but specifically I wanted to make sure you saw the tool for checking projected job openings in a field. (It's important to be able to find a job after you finish college, right?) Use the short video below as a tutorial for using this great site!