Okay, let’s cut to the chase here…this is probably our biggest problem. Luckily I’ve rounded up what we need to get started on the vast road to career actualization.
First things first—why are you struggling to pick a career path?
Is it that you aren’t sure what you’re interested in, or do you feel like your ambitions go against what you should be doing? If you’re lucky like me, it’s both. We can work on the second part later– let’s focus on figuring out what we want first.
My go-to reference for this stuff is John Liptak’s Career Quizzes: 12 Tests to Help You Discover and Develop Your Dream Career. It covers everything from building a list of possible career choices to doing what it takes to get the job you want. For about $10 I’d say this is the most valuable tool you’ll find, and they don’t pay me to say that.
I’ll cover some of the basics here:
1. Explore your interests
What did you want to be when you were growing up? What would you do now if you didn’t have to worry about salary or job security? What are your interests outside work?
2. Take inventory of your skills
What are you good at? What do you remember standing out for at work, in class, or in your personal life?
3. Heed your needs
Are you looking to make a lot of money? Change the world? Be creative? Do you need to be in charge? Spend as little time as possible behind a desk?
Here’s what I came up with:
interests: research, writing, people, being creative, helping
skills: organizing, leading, writing, communication, research
needs: pay the bills, contact with people, continued learning and growth, control my own destiny, be creative
possible careers: PR, marketing, event planning, photography, city planning, counseling, writing, teaching, CEO, and on and on…
This is where #4 comes in–
4. Get out there
Chances are you’ll have a pretty substantial list of options that meet your requirements from above. Don’t fret over trying to pick your dream career right away, just pick one and start exploring! Network through Linkedin, set up some informational interviews, do some volunteering in one of the fields on your list. The hard truth is that taking career quizzes won’t get you closer to your dream career– you have to be willing to get off your computer and step outside your comfortable boundaries to make it happen.
But if you’re looking for a quick career quiz to get you started, this one is free and pretty comprehensive. The site does ask for your address and there are ads sprinkled throughout the quiz, but if you’re paying attention you won’t get sucked into any schemes.
It’s well worth all this effort up front if it means you end up in a career you enjoy. And as for that bit about feeling like what you’re passionate about isn’t in line with what you’re supposed to do? Chances are when you turn your dream into a career path you won’t give it a second thought.
What do you want to be when you grow up?