This is my 7th career. Yes, seventh. And it wasn’t part of some grand career plan. I never planned to become a career coach, certainly not in college! The only coaches we knew about in college were athletic coaches. Actually, I didn’t have a career plan when I went off to college because I didn’t know about many careers. I just knew I loved history, research, and writing, so I majored in history.
Are you ready to decide what you’re doing for the rest of your life?
Today there’s a lot of pressure on high school students to decide what they want to do for work before they go to college. I get it. College is expensive. So is making a career decision before you’ve had a chance to explore your options. Are you really ready to decide what you want to do the rest of your life when you’re 18?
Think about it. When you head to college, you’ve only been exposed to the careers of people you know. Parents, grandparents, teachers, parents’ friends, etc. And even then, I’ll bet you don’t what their careers and specific jobs really entail.
How did you pick that job?
Say your mom is an attorney. Everybody knows what attorneys do. They work in court. Is that all they do? Why is she an attorney? What type of law does she practice? And why do they say “practice?” How did she decide what type of law to practice? What did it take to become an attorney? What was law school like? Did she enjoy it? Did it prepare her to work as an attorney? How does she know what to do every day? Does she go out and get her own clients? Does she like to go to work? Why?
Or maybe your dad sells software for this mega-huge software company. How did he decide to go into sales? Did he study sales in college? What does he have to know to be in sales? How much does he have to know about how the software works to be able to sell it? How does he get leads? What if all his leads are bad? How long does it take to close a sale? What does it feel like to miss your sales quota? What happens to you if you can’t meet your quotas? Does he like to go to work? Why?
Maybe one of your parents works in IT. Did they study IT in college? Are they programmers? Are they analysts? What’s an analyst? Are they project managers? Do they develop apps or maintain legacy systems? What’s a legacy system? How did they get into IT? Are they data miners? What do they do all day? Do they like their work? Why?
You get the idea. Unless high school students have had the opportunity to do some internships in high school to get a taste of what different careers are like, chances are they have no idea what the jobs and careers they are interested in really entail.
Take time to explore at the beginning.
And what about all those other majors that you don’t learn about until you’re in college: management, business info systems, archaeology, forensics, forensic accounting, sociology? What careers can you pursue with those degrees? How can you find out what careers are in demand right now? Does it have to be a straight line from a degree to a career?
Click here for 11 careers that are expected to grow by 14% from 2014 to 2024.
The truth is, it is rarely a straight line from a college degree to a career. In fact, college career centers will tell you that choosing a major is not choosing a career. Many people go to college, get a degree, graduate, and find themselves taking the first job they’re offered – whether or not it’s in their field.
That’s one of the reasons I’ve had seven careers. I started college with a double major in history and finance. I found out that I hate accounting – yes, present tense, I still do. So, no accounting equals no business degree. Here’s the thing, I found that out my second year in college. Not after slogging through multiple semesters of accounting and then taking some management job because it was there. And, not after racking up more debt by having to add another year to my program!!
Grab the opportunity to find a career that fits you.
Of course, this was B.T.I. (Before The Internet) and career information was contained in books and people’s heads. I couldn’t Google “jobs for history majors.” Now it’s different. You can Google different careers, learn about them, take the time to explore different avenues while you’re in college, either by taking different types of courses or through internship opportunities. End result? You give yourself the opportunity to find a career that fits you. And you increase the chances that you won’t have to change who you are to fit the career you end up in.
Think about it. You really don’t have to know what you’re going to do before you go to college.
Read. Watch. Learn.
Read: My Major, Myself
Read: Four Steps to Choosing a College Major
Read: 20 Things Nobody Tells You When You Graduate College
Watch: How To Pick Your College Major
Watch: Here’s What College Graduates Regret the Most