Choosing a career that’s right for you is a huge decision, and there is a lot to consider. Focusing on what you’re good at and what you’re interested in is a good place to start, but it goes beyond that. Because most Americans will spend more than 40 years working, it’s ideal to pick a career path that gives you opportunity to grow, and gives you something to truly look forward to each day. Whether you’ve already been working for many years, or you’re a new college student trying to pick a major, it’s never too late (or too soon) to find your career path.
Where to begin
Some people grow up knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives, and others don’t know where to start. Begin by identifying what interests you and what you’re good at. Explore the job options out there that match your skills and interests, and begin to narrow your choices down from there. Many people base their decision on where they live and what types of jobs are in high demand for that area, or where they want to work. For example, if you have dreams of working abroad in a non-English speaking country, that will narrow down your choices considerably—but could also be an excellent opportunity for you to work as an English teacher. As you begin to learn more about the different career options that interest you, it’ll get easier to make a decision. And don’t be surprised if you change your mind—even several times.
Mike Crespi, Senior Associate Director of Market Readiness and Employment at Wake Forest University, has a strategy for students who are trying to find a career path and have begun narrowing down choices, but still feel overwhelmed with the possibilities.
“I believe selecting three industries, three roles, and three geographies takes a world of infinite opportunities into a manageable number,” said Crespi. “Think of it as a 27-piece puzzle versus a 5,000-piece puzzle—keep it easy to remember. If upon further research, the student does not like a direction, stop it and start another.”
Breaking into a new career field can be difficult, and if you’re just graduating from college and don’t have any work experience at all, can almost seem impossible. More and more college graduates are finding themselves working jobs that have nothing to do with the industry they wanted to work in. Sometimes, plans just have a way of changing—and you might find yourself going down a different career path that you like even more as a result. But if you find yourself in a job that makes you miserable, remember there are so many different ways to gain the experience you need to work towards the job you really want. From shadowing to internships, it’s important to gain experience where you can, even if it means it’s unpaid. And as Crespi points out, it also means starting from the bottom and the willingness to work your way up from an entry-level position. It might not be the exact job you want or at the pay scale you were hoping for, but everyone has to break into an industry somehow.
Crespi also stresses the importance of networking when it comes to building your career.
“The key for students is to be able to make the pitch, say what you want to do, why you want to do it, and then people get to know who you are. This is the key opportunity for students to succeed.”
The importance of choosing a career you’re happy with
If you’ve already been working for several years at a job that you’re unhappy in, you’re probably already aware of the importance of selecting a career that’s right for you. But if you’re new to the working world, you may not have given it much thought. So many people don’t look forward to going to their jobs each day; oftentimes, their work might be unfulfilling, and/or the compensation is not enough. But as the old saying goes, if you truly enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
Although going to work each day might not become your favorite thing to do—even if you pick an industry you enjoy working in—you don’t want to end up with a job you detest, either. For some people, it’s not about the pay, but rather the work they do on a daily basis. For others, their priorities might be higher compensation. There is no right or wrong answer, but rather, deciding what’s most important for you and finding a career that meets those needs.
“At the end of the day, work is about content, lifestyle, and compensation, added Crespi. “Pick two and make sure content is number one. Success will be determined by doing something you enjoy and that you are good at.”
Changing career fields
It’s one thing if you’re a young college student and just beginning to explore all of the different career options that are out there. But what can you do if you’re already established in a particular career field that you’re unhappy in, or you have yet to establish a career, and you’ve been hopping from job to job? Remember that it’s never too late to change your path and pursue your dreams of a better, brighter, and happier future.
It will take a lot of work and a lot of discipline. Depending on how radical of a change you want to make, it could mean training in a different industry, or even going to college—whether for the first time, or to finish something you started long ago. It might also mean starting from the beginning and gaining the experience you need to land a job in your desired career field. But if you’re willing to put in the work and set your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.
At Peachtree Financial Solutions, we also understand that affording college can be difficult, whether you’re a working adult or you just graduated high school. If you’re receiving long-term structured settlement payments, Peachtree Financial Solutions can purchase some or all of your future payments and provide you with a lump sum of cash. Many of our customers have used their lump sum of cash to pay for college, and we’d like to help you if you share similar goals. Contact Peachtree Financial Solutions today to learn more and to receive your free quote.
Nothing above is meant to provide financial, tax, or legal advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.