Going to college is an opportunity for growth, self-discovery, and decision making. Students attend college to learn and gain experience in the real world, both inside and outside of the classroom. And because of the experience gained, higher education has become a necessity–a prerequisite for more jobs now than in much of the recent past.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 25-34 yr old students that graduate college have an 86% employment rate. This means that the majority of graduates are able to enter the workforce and maintain jobs at this crucial time in their lives. College graduates, especially those with a bachelor’s degree, are ideal candidates in the job market and are likely to be considered for open positions. Once they’ve started on their career path, they’re basically set.
But so early in life, many find themselves unsure about what they want for their future. The first twelve years of schooling are about getting to higher education, but we seldom think about what comes next. So, how do we figure out what career path we’ll take while in college? When you’ve made it so far, how do you plan next steps? How do you choose your careers?
1. Pursue career options that suit your skills and interests.
Whatever you like, there are plenty of careers that will suit you. Don’t settle for a job you don’t like when you can pursue opportunities that will allow you to do the things you love every day!
If you want to know more about how your personality, skills, and interests influence your career choice and what field best suits you, check out these career tests:
- The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – A personality test that determines your personality type based on a model of modern personality theory and typology. The MBTI can tell you what career paths and work environments best suit you based on your type, as well as where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
- Kiersey Temperament Sorter (KTS) – A self-assessed personality questionnaire designed to help people better understand themselves and others. It was first introduced in the book Please Understand Me. It is one of the most widely used personality assessments in the world, especially among employers.
- Skills Matcher by the Department of Labor – A career matching tool that helps you identify potential jobs by matching them with your skills, interests, and experience. This test determines what jobs you are most qualified for and rates them based on what best fits.
2. Look into your school’s offerings.
If you haven’t decided on a major and want to know more about what paths you can follow, get to know your school’s various programs and the courses associated with them. Each program has a list of careers it can lead to, so once you’ve narrowed your ideal major down, you can start researching jobs in that area. You may also want to know more about popular majors. Why are they popular? What draws students to them? Could they be what you’re looking for?
3. Research prospective careers or majors.
Consider what you look for in a future career and what those careers have to offer in terms of salary, benefits, and employee satisfaction. Is it a good fit? How do you feel about the earning potential? While you don’t have to tie yourself to any one career forever, you will likely spend a lot of time with whatever you choose, so think about what you want for yourself. Get all the facts before committing to anything!
Visit the Career Center
Your university has plenty of resources that can aid in your research, like the Career Center and the campus’s academic advisors, that can help you discover courses, internships, and future jobs. Working with your college’s career center can give you access to exclusive opportunities and help with interview skills, resume building, and direct you to beneficial courses. Your academic advisor can recommend courses, as well as direct you towards internships and workshops. Other resources can be just as useful, so don’t be afraid to look into them!
1. Enroll in general education courses.
Taking gen ed courses will help you get a feel of different subjects and allow you to determine which ones you like and dislike. Once you’ve taken these courses, you can cross requirements off your list, bringing you a step closer to completing your degree.
2. Branch out.
Register for a range of classes in or outside of your major that focus on different careers within the field. This way you get a feel for what certain specializations are like and how different areas within a field differ. A student who doesn’t know what they want to do in life can gain more information taking a variety of classes than they can by sticking to the same basic courses.
3. Go outside your comfort zone.
You can also take classes you wouldn’t normally take, or explore those you’ve considered pursuing, but never found the time. By doing this, you can discover passions and develop interests that may ultimately lead to a final career goal. And remember, no courses are useless or far fetched. Branch out and take risks because you never know what other subjects have to offer until you put in the time!
Take Your Time
1. Don’t feel like you need to rush.
Until you find the right fit, you can remain undecided and fulfill gen ed requirements in the meantime. You can have up to two years with a traditional four-year degree before you really need to work on major requirements, so spending that time on decision making won’t hurt you too much financially. You want to be sure you’re making the right choice. Get other perspectives, gain experiences, and seek out all of the relevant information.
2. Don’t limit yourself.
Remember: you are in college to reach your own goals. Don’t feel restricted by fear or the expectations of others. Make the choices that you feel are best for you or those that you feel would fulfill you most rather than those that will make you miserable for the sake of a paycheck.
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