Do these questions sound familiar?
- What are you going to do after High School?
- Are you going to college?
- What do you want to do with your life?
Chances are, the closer you are to graduation, the more you hear these types of questions. Knowing what to do with your life is no easy task. No matter what your post-high school plans are, you will face these questions in the near future, and your answers will become the reality. So, why not put some thought into it now!?!
Step 1: Who am I?
Everyone wants to be in a career that they will enjoy; no one wants to dread going to work every day. In fact, your life satisfaction is directly related to your job satisfaction. After all, you will be spending 40 hours each week on the job. That’s 50% of your waking hours during the work week! The best way to find a job that will be satisfying to you is to begin by knowing yourself. Ask yourself these questions:
- What activities do I enjoy?
- What activities am I already involved in?
- What am I good at?
- If I were to read about a topic for fun, what would I read about?
- What is exciting to me? What do I dream about?
- Are there any important causes or missions to which I want to contribute?
Spend time thinking about these questions. Journal about them. Ask people in your life for feedback: teachers, counselors, family, friends, co-workers, supervisors, etc.
There are many free online assessments that you can complete to aid you in this self-exploration process. Caution: Assessment results are a tool for you to use in understanding yourself, no more. Everyone is unique and the results are unable to account for individual differences. Also, remember that assessment results are not prophecies. Career inventories tell you what people who are similar to you have found satisfaction doing. You do not have to agree. However, they can be a valuable resource in helping you identify your personal strengths and giving you career options to ponder.
Step 2: Who am I at Work?
After you have answered these questions and are satisfied with your answers, you are ready to look at the wide world of work. This step involves taking your newly acquired self-knowledge and applying it to existing careers. Many students end up limiting their options simply because they do not know what is out there.
This is your time to explore! Maybe you prefer to work by yourself, outdoors, doing some type of physical labor. What jobs fit that description? Perhaps you are on the opposite side of the fence—you like working with people to influence or persuade them, in an office setting. What jobs involve doing this? Career exploration can really broaden your knowledge of jobs that are available to you.
You probably have come across some job titles as you were engaged in the self-discovery stage. If any of those sound interesting, research those career paths!
- Read books, publications, or websites on those careers that interest you, so that you can gain a basic understanding of that particular career field.
- Ask around about the job, preferably to someone who is in the career field you are interested in. By doing this, you will be able to get a more detailed picture of what exactly the career is about.
- Job shadowing or volunteering—What better way to find out about a career than to actually experience it?
Be proactive. You can only pursue a career that you know about. No one is going to do the work for you. Get out there, and find out what is available!
Step 3: Make a Plan!
By this time, you should have a fairly good idea about who you are and how you fit into certain career fields. Hopefully, you have narrowed your search and are ready to make a plan. During this stage, ask yourself these questions:
- How does this career fit into who I am (values, skills, interests, personality)?
- Will this career support the lifestyle that I would like to have?
- Will this career allow me to move up in the world?
- What is the outlook for this career?
- What training or education does this career require?
Once you feel comfortable with the answers to these questions, make your plan! Again, talk with people who can help guide you as you make your plan. Think about both long-term and short-term goals, and make sure you are setting goals that are realistic and attainable.
Your life is what you make it. Deciding on a career path can be a long process; the sooner you start, the better. Take time to go through these steps! It will pay off!!