When Do You Need to Make a Career Choice?

I read a good blog post by Curt Rosengren about choosing a career as a new grad.

He makes the point that it’s a mistake to put too much pressure on making the right decision for the long term. Most people have several careers over the course of their working life, so it’s not necessary to choose when you’re right out of school and then think you’ll remain in that field until you retire.

This is old-school thinking – and perhaps worthy of further discussion on what is important when choosing your career field…

 

Investigate Different Fields

 

It’s most important to investigate different fields, and to get work experience in as many as appeal to you. Try different work environments, which can radically skew your research. For example, small and entrepreneurial is completely different from big and corporate. And of course there is everything in between.

Interview Yourself

 

As Curt says, treat your exploration as R&D (Research & Development). Ask yourself a lot of tough questions about what you like and don’t like about a field and about various work experiences you have. The most important goal is to gain exposure through internships, volunteer work and jobs. Early in your career, you’re in an enviable position to experiment without raising eyebrows. Take advantage!

Research Yourself – and Potential Fields

Once you’ve gone through the exercise of identifying what you enjoy doing and what kinds of subjects interest you, figure out what fields fit the bill. You can take a number of assessment tests online, to help you narrow things down. Try CareerPlanner.com, which will provide some basic information about the kinds of fields that may interest you. Do some deeper research on the government website O*NET.

Confirm What You Think You Know

Volunteer within your field. Go to YouTern and your career center to find internships of interest. And call companies that appear intriguing, to schedule informational interviews.

Follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to validating your career choice (for now, anyway).

About the Author: Allison Cheston is a New York City-based career advisor that works with mid-career executives, young adults in high school and college, and recent graduates to help them understand how their strengths and interests fit in the world of work. Allison is author of the upcoming In The Driver’s Seat: Work-Life Navigational Skills for Young Adults, the first book to combine the perspectives of both a ‘Boomer’ and hundreds of Gen Y college grads aged 23 to 30.

An entrepreneur with cross-cultural expertise, Allison holds a BA from the University of Michigan and both an MA in International Education and a Certificate in Adult Career Planning from New York University.

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  • Another great post on YouTern. Kudos to Allison. Figuring out job prospects is so important for college students. There can be a big disconnect between what is studied, and what happens in a career, further confounding student plans.

    Here’s my take on Employment for Gen Y from my blog: http://j.mp/i2gt3M

  • Allison Cheston

    Thanks, Ken. I agree that it’s all about getting practical experience, and the truth is that many majors don’t correlate specifically with a career. It is up to the candidate to lead the witness, which means that candidate needs to know what they are looking for in a position and what they have to offer an employer. The only way to do that is through experience, and that is why internships are so helpful.

    Allison Cheston