Often we feel pressured to have our careers figured out, but for many people, the right career is a journey of self-discovery. Did you know that the average age of individuals who change careers is 39, or that 21% of recent graduates hold a position unrelated to their degree? Careers are not as set in stone as we think they are, and finding the right path for you is not something you have to rush. Here are some ways to help you discover yours:
Explore your interests
A good first step is to list out your interests. What are some subjects that have fascinated you for a long time now? What do you spend a lot of time thinking about? Are there hobbies that you prefer to do every day? The more you know what topics you gravitate towards the more likely you are to find a job that excites you.
Research and informational interviews
Once you have your list of interests, take some time to research possible careers. Books, day-in-a-life videos, podcasts, and more are valuable resources to get to know any industry.
Plus, informational interviews are conversations with an experienced professional who answers questions about their industry, position, current company, or other career-related topics. These interviews can help grow your network, provide insider advice, and often define the next steps you can take. Read more about how to effectively cold message on LinkedIn.
Evaluate your skills
Everyone excels at something. Instead of focusing on what you’re not good at, think of all the tasks that feel effortless. If you’re really good at organization and time management, project management might be the right fit for you. On the other hand, if you’re a wiz at assembling and constructing, engineering could be better. Remember, even if you excel at a skill, it does not necessarily mean you will be passionate about a similar career. Sometimes the jobs we most enjoy require our time and effort to grow.
Take a personality quiz
The right career for you has a lot to do with who you are as a person. Personality quizzes, like Meyers Briggs, or career quizzes, like this one from Princeton Review, can help you discover personal traits that align with certain careers. Yet, this doesn’t mean that introverts and extroverts can’t have the same job.
Define your values
Values play a huge role in finding the right career. Think about what is important to you. Do you want to make a difference in the world? Do you value work-life balance? Do you want to help others? The more you are able to understand the kind of work you want to do, the easier it will be to narrow down the options. Values can also lead you to define short or long-term goals. For example, if you value helping others, you may set goals that relate to the number of people you support in a year.
Know your preferred work environment
Since the pandemic, there are more varieties of work environments. You can be in an office one day and then in Greece taking Zoom meetings the next. But outside remote, hybrid, or in-person, company culture is a large part of the work environment. Is it a fast-paced modern office? Are you collaborating with others to deliver a proposal? Do you like working alone on creative projects? Here are 9 culture fit questions you can ask yourself and interviewers.
The simplest way to know if a career is right for you or not is to try it. Volunteer positions, internships, or part-time work is a great way to test the waters before fully committing. You get to directly experience a career while meeting people in that industry. And, if you end up disliking it, then you are one step closer to finding the right career.
Talk to a career coach
A career coach is someone who will help you define and, ultimately, achieve your professional goals. Together, you’ll identify obstacles that may be holding you back, find new avenues of growth, and create strategies for accomplishing your objectives. And, perhaps most importantly, a career coach will keep you motivated and cheer you on as you strive for success. Find out how you can obtain a career coach on our blog.
Visit the IAW Career Center today to find your next opportunity!