When you decide to start a new career, it can seem like such a harrowing and painful experience, and you might rather undergo a root canal than go through several strenuous months (or years) of job searches and interviews, while still not finding the job that fits you. Choosing your career may seem downright terrifying. Depending on your personal situation, you might already harbor many years of experience at a single job, and leaving it behind might seem like occupational suicide. On the other hand, you might be a fresh new college graduate, wet behind the ears, and stepping out into a world that seems ready to swallow you up before the ink on your diploma is completely dry. Regardless of your situation, with the right motivation and tools to help you choose the right career path, you won’t feel like pulling your hair out every time one more roadblock falls across your path to success. It would be fantastic if we could all just drag a genie out of a bottle, or snap our magic fingers, but unfortunately we don’t have that benefit. However, rather than staggering blindly in search of a new career without any real idea about what you want, try setting a plan in motion by using some of the following helpful hints. Find out what you like, decide where you want to live, and by all means, actively sample some jobs and discover what does–or does not–work for you!
Find Out What You Like
It may seem like common knowledge that you will choose what you like, but that’s not always the case. So many people look for careers that will make them rich, or they seek positions that are in demand, but a high-paying job, or a shoe-in, won’t necessarily be right for you if you don’t like it. How do you know what you like? What are your interests? Do you like working with other people? Do you like working alone? Would you rather work with senior citizens, or would you prefer to hang out with children all day? Maybe you like computers, and then again, maybe you don’t even know what a computer looks like. Although there’s no single way to find out what you really like, here are a couple of accessible opportunities that can help you learn more about your likes and dislikes.
Taking an assessment test, although it may seem redundant, is a great idea. You may not truly realize exactly what you like to do until you ask yourself determining questions. Or, you might know precisely what you enjoy, but you have a problem figuring out how to implement that into a career. Contact the counseling department at your local employment office, college, or temp agency to request a test. There won’t be a right or wrong answer; you’ll simply be given a detailed questionnaire about your personality and your life. Depending on your answers, you will be given an explanation, in some form or another (often a graph or rated chart) to help you establish what type of job would be right for you. Afterward, you have the option of speaking with a counselor who will identify certain areas of interest based upon your evaluation, and he or she can continue working with you as long as you need. In addition, you can find online assessment tests. Don’t rely on just one single test; take several. Not all tests are the same, and you may discover a hidden talent, or an appreciation for one topic, that you didn’t encounter from a different test.
When you take an evaluation, you might encounter a path to a career that you’d never considered in the past. The tests may reveal that several of your strengths can overlap with each other to fulfill one particular job. For example, up until now, maybe your desire to be a chef has been stifled because you also aren’t the kind of person who wants to work for someone else, so you steer clear of restaurants at all costs. However, a test might help remind you that you love working under pressure, you love to drive, and you would kill for a job where you didn’t have to work in the same building day after day. In such an instance, maybe you should consider your own business as a caterer. It is important to remember that a test is by no means the final word of law; it’s just a piece of paper. If some little voice in your head tells you that you don’t agree with a section in the analysis, of course you should listen to yourself and go with what’s in your gut. When it’s all said and done, a computer printout won’t determine your job; you will.
In addition to assessment tests, classes are excellent avenues that help you find out more about yourself and what you like. Many colleges now offer non-credit courses that help you find your niche. The classes aren’t meant to be strenuous or intense, so they only last a few weeks, just enough time to equip you with some of life’s lessons about job hunting and career searches. The assignments in these classes often include research that helps you discover more about your strengths and weaknesses in a given vocational field. In addition, the instructors often help students learn how to research small businesses or corporations that they might be interested in working for someday. This is an excellent way to find out about salary opportunities too. Because the classes are non-credit, they are generally cheaper and won’t burn up your wallet. Call your local college today and find out when the next class begins!
Networking is one of the single most important methods to help you realize your dream, whatever that may be. In the work force, networking doesn’t refer to a bunch of complex bundles of confusion that unite computers together. When you network, you become united to real people and real ideas, and likes and dislikes, and hopefully to your future job. All of this can be accomplished through internships, career shadowing, and interviews.
An internship is a great way to find a different career, and contrary to popular belief, internships aren’t just for students! It’s true that students prepare themselves for their future jobs by participating in internships and gaining hands-on experience, but the same can be true for anyone. Call some local employers and tell them your current situation–that you’re uncertain of the job you really want, and you’d like them to consider you for an internship. The downside of an internship is that it pays little, or nothing at all, but you will gain so much more than you will lose. Employers welcome the opportunity to bring eager recruits into their field, especially at such a low cost to them. In addition, you get the benefits of gaining job experience for your future, and the exposure may help you decide whether or not you really want to work in that field someday. It may take several attempts at several different internships, but that’s so much better than jumping headfirst into a job and then realizing you need to start all over again. As well as calling local employers, you can obtain information from the college you attended, or you can post your interest on national websites such as www.internjobs.com or www.findtuition.com. Further, there is a rather hefty book on the market entitled Internships: Find the Right Internship for You. The book has close to 800 pages and contains thousands of titles and descriptions of internships available across the U.S. and overseas, and it’s updated each year. The book also offers additional assistance about finding the right internship for you. Because only participating companies are listed in the book, you may not find exactly what you want if you have a particular company in mind. Therefore, search for the book at your local library before you purchase it.
If you are a student, your college or university likely has a career-shadowing program in place, so check it out. Many businesses also offer their own job-shadowing opportunities for anyone interested in examining the prospects available in a certain field. You can also find information available at government or state organizations in your area. However, if you already know someone whose career you might like to have someday, find out if you can follow them at work for a few days. If you are lucky, their employer might even let you stay for a few weeks. When you job-shadow someone, they can show you how they conduct their business on a daily basis, and the experience will give you insight into how they interact with their coworkers. You can also observe the benefits that attract you to the job, or you might just find aspects that avert you away from it. And just think–you might unexpectedly get the chance to demonstrate your own skills by your ability to engage in critical thinking, or reveal your capacity to work with another individual who seems to throw everyone else in a frenzy.
You don’t necessarily need to be acquainted with the person whom you shadow. Again, call some businesses that interest you, and find out if they would consider a short-term career-shadowing program. Many employers find that career-shadowing is a great opportunity to flaunt the benefits that their business provides, and you might just walk away having found your dream job too. Through career shadowing, you’ll discover certain aspects about a job that you never considered before, and you could very well be shaping your future.
Aside from career-shadowing and internships, you should speak to professionals and ask them questions about their careers. Informational interviews are similar to career-shadowing because you still enter into a business to get answers about a job, although you won’t stay as long. You won’t get hands-on experience in the profession when you interview someone, but you can still gain important answers to any questions that still linger in your mind. Again, anyone can perform informational interviews, but if you are a student, you can access further information at your university. Many professionals in your area will gladly allow you to interview them, especially because many working professionals once attended your university, and they want to help contribute to your education, and also to the institution that helped them start their own careers. During the interview, ask questions that are most important to you. Of course, you’ll want to learn as much information as possible about their position, so let them speak freely, but try to focus on the topics that you know will have an impact on your decision and what you can bring away from the experience.
When you involve yourself in an internship, career-shadowing, or interviewing, you represent yourself to many people. You often build relationships with them and prove yourself in the working environment. Additionally, you just might make a friend with the right person, someone who can help you attain your dream job someday.
Location and Demand
What’s the big deal about location? It doesn’t matter, right? Location doesn’t have anything to do with what you like, or how much money you’ll make, or whether you will find yourself content with your chosen career. Unfortunately, this is a very common misconception for most people. Yes, it’s true that a handful of people wouldn’t care if their jobs were on the moon as long as they got paid well and drove nice cars, but those people don’t constitute the majority of us. Although the term location may not need explanation or guidance in the same fashion as self-assessment and networking, it’s just as significant. In fact, you should consider your location before you even think of networking. You should know where you want to live, and here is the reason: You may be exceptionally fluent in French, and you have huge aspirations to work as an interpreter or a translator, especially because you do it so well. But, what if you live in central Ohio where there are no French-speaking opportunities? Unfortunately, it means you cannot expect to fulfill your dreams as an interpreter, not if you won’t change your residence. You just might be someone who doesn’t care where he will live, but many of us in the middle of a career-switch can’t just pick up and move across the world to a job that we can’t live without. Many people already have strong family connections, or they have sick parents, or kids who don’t want to be uprooted from their schools; or spouses who can’t leave their own jobs. If you bury yourself in school for several years and earn enough diplomas to fill a briefcase, it won’t do you any good if your job isn’t available in your region. Find out what is offered in your area before you set your mind to one particular job.
Not to contradict the above, but make sure you research every opportunity extensively. Remember the French language interpreter job that isn’t available in your area? One person might have told you that you have no opportunities in your vicinity, but–Surprise! Internet innovation has made it possible for people to simultaneously interpret long-distance through Internet videoconferences. Your dream job may be just around the corner–or just around the keyboard and right through your computer screen.
There are many aspects of your life to consider when you are just stepping out into the work force or changing your current career. If you use the above ideas, you can help bring yourself to a better understanding about which job is right for you, and you might also discover some hidden talents that you didn’t realize you had. In addition, networking is very important, if anything, because the majority of available jobs are unlisted. If you meet the right person, you may very well open the door to a great opportunity for yourself and your future. Don’t ever forget about location. If you choose to live in an area where your dream job is not available, you might have to reevaluate your living arrangements, or come up with an alternate ambition. In any event, be good to yourself, and don’t stress about finding the right job. With patience, it will surface, and you’ll love it.