Career Conversations Series: What do you want to do with your life?

Our new Career Conversations Series is aimed to help high school or college students explore your interests and learn more about the type of majors or careers that you would want to pursue.  The goal of this series is to set you up with resources that can help you identify the characteristics of career that fits you best.  Brittany, a senior in our Psychology program, will be sharing strategies to help you evaluate what major or career would be most fulfilling to you.

What do you want to do with your life?wheretogo

Choosing a college major and making career decisions can be an exciting chapter in your life; however it may also make you feel anxious. Take a deep breath and keep reading because there are many tips for exploring college majors and making career choices that can guide you through this process! Perhaps you’re a high school student who has just begun considering going to college or maybe you’re already a college student who has entered college undecided. Maybe you’re a non-traditional student who is returning to school after taking some time off. Or are you questioning your current major or starting to explore graduate school programs? Whatever situation you’re in, the fact that you’re reading this guide means that you’re thinking about how to pursue your future career.

Explore your interests

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Ask yourself, what is it I like to do? What don’t I like to do? Make a list of what you’re passionate about and what you dislike. This doesn’t have to be limited to academic interests. For now, just spend some time getting to know yourself better. You never know, perhaps your interest in video games will lead you to an interesting career you never thought of, such as a Cognitive Psychologist, or maybe your dislike for people with bad breath will be what you determine is the deal breaker in pursuing a degree in Dental Medicine. So just explore and have some fun doing so.

Want to explore even more? Consider taking this free version of the free personality test based on the classic Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), in order to get a brief report on your personality type and careers to explore.

Explore your lifestyle

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Consider the type of lifestyle you want and the type of work environment.  This is a factor that can change throughout your life and career, but deciding on what’s important to you now might help you guide your career choices.

Are you someone who loves reading about science and wouldn’t mind spending hours reading research articles? Or are you someone who prefers to be active and wants a job that will keep you on your feet? Do you want to have children and a rich home life? Or are you more interested in working for a company that requires frequent travel? Depending on your answers to these sorts of questions certain careers may be more appealing to you than others. For example, maybe you’re passionate about computers and you’ve decided you want to work with them for a living. You’ve decided that you’re interested in becoming a Network Administrator. While doing research on Network Administration you realize that some Network Administrators are always on call, especially when they are the only one who can do their job at their place of employment and it is crucial that the network stay working. If you’re a person who wants a 9-5 job, then perhaps that means you should consider other options or decide if you can live the way you want to with a job where you’re always on call. Considering your lifestyle is important to help you make a career choice that is compatible with your future plans and workstyle preferences.

Take a career interest inventory

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There are plenty of career inventories that exist online to help you sort out your career interests and start exploring educational opportunities!

O*NET Interest Profiler: This is a 60 question quiz that has you rate how you feel about certain types of work. It gives you an interest profile that ranks your interests and gives career suggestions! You can click on the careers they give you and explore educational opportunities from there!

ISEEK: There are multiple assessments you can take on this site, which will allow you to explore your career interests and provide suggestions for careers that align with your interests. It takes 5-10 minutes to complete each one. The ISEEK also gives you information on educational opportunities and how to begin pursuing them!

Research college majors and careers

Once you’ve got some ideas about your interests then you’re ready to begin exploring some majors and careers. There are plenty of resources for exploring college majors and careers: the internet, career books at your local or school library (yes those still exist!), resources within your school or schools you may be interested in, magazines, journals, etc. Two interesting websites for exploring careers are: the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and O*Net Online where you can read career descriptions to learn about factors such as work environment, pay, job outlook, and state wage and employment data. You can also explore similar careers and how to pursue these careers on these websites!

If you’ve already made a list of some careers you’re interested in make sure you look into what sort of education you need so that you can prepare properly. You’ll want to look into things such as what kind of courses you’ll need to take, will have to do internships, complete other field experience, go to graduate school, and other factors relevant to pursuing the career. Remember to also consider if these factors fit your lifestyle and interests. If you are not interested in graduate school, you want to be sure the careers you’re interested in can be done without a graduate degree.

Talk to teachers, professors, and professionals within the field

Want more information? Talk to the people who have already earned a college degree and are currently in the workforce. Sit down with your teachers and professors and discuss your interests with them. Request to meet with professionals working within the fields you are interested in. Ask them about their educational background and what they do with their career. There’s more than what you see and read about. Your teachers, professors, and other professionals offer a wealth of information and have first-hand experience to back up their claims. (A word of caution: remember that people have different opinions and not to rely too heavily on opinion alone!) Perhaps you are curious about the lifestyle of a neurosurgeon and want to know if it’s really as glamorous as Grey’s Anatomy makes it seem. Or maybe you know nothing about Microbiology but it was one of the careers suggested for you through a career inventory or elsewhere. Reading articles may give you some idea, but actually speaking with someone about the careers you’re exploring can give you a fresh perspective!

Talk to counselors and academic advisors

School counselors, career counselors, and academic advisors are another good place to go for career guidance. Whether you’re just trying to figure out what your career interests are, exploring schools, or looking for more in-depth information on careers a conversation with a counselor or an advisor could be very helpful. You can discuss your academic interests, relevant lifestyle factors, and how to pursue opportunities with them. School counselors and academic advisors are constantly networking with others, so they may be able to link you up with opportunities or help you find some. Career counselors can be found within your school or other agencies and can provide in-depth information on careers and link you with opportunities. D’Youville College offers career counseling through the Career Services Center for current students and alumni.

Get active!

Once you’ve spent some time figuring out your career and academic interests go out and explore them! Volunteer with organizations that have some of the careers you’re interested in. Visit colleges and meet with the professors, admissions counselors, and students. Discuss their experiences with them and gather information about their program and what other students and alumni have done. All of these are ways to actively gather information and discover if a career or major is right for you. Active experience can help you determine if what you were told or what you read is accurate. It can also confirm if you want to continue pursuing a certain field or career. In other cases actual experience with a major or career may lead you to the realization that it is not for you. However, you may end up finding something you’re more interested in while you’re exploring!

The Career Conversations Series is researched and written by Brittany Souliske, a senior in the Psychology program who will be graduating in May of 2016.

About the author

Brittany

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