How do I choose the right career?
I thought I had chosen the right career path, realized it was WRONG, and then went through a process that I WISH I had done sooner! It put me in my dream career with the kind of lifestyle I want. Here is what I did:
Step 1: Figure out what you love
What do you love?
- Maybe you love numbers, statistics, public speaking, event planning, design, debate, nature…make a list of everything.
- Ask other people casually what their jobs entail and what they love about them. We are generally not exposed to a lot of the different interests of the working world – so much of our education is focused around primary subjects like math, humanities, and science. So get curious.
- For me my top 3 interests were Journalism, music, and psychology.
Make a list of potential jobs:
- For psychology I looked into: School psychologist, market researcher, academic researcher, human capital consulting, advertising, sales, therapist, HR/recruiting
Research the ones that sound interesting to you
- Search for blogs, article, and job descriptions online to get a sense of the line of work
- Also how in-demand and fruitful is each career? How much do they get paid? How many openings are there? How competitive is it to get into the industry?
Step 2: After you have this research, narrow down your list by being honest with yourself about finding the center of the Venn diagram
Scrutinize each potential path:
- What you love
- What you can be the best at
- What pays well
I did this exact exercise and completely ruled out two of my passions and changed my major. Watch this video to hear how I worked through this diagram.
Step 3: Do informational interviews
Based on your research of careers, do informational interviews for the careers that sound interesting to you. This the pivotal step that many people skip and it must be done, can’t emphasize this enough:
- Watch this video I made to know how to find people, reach out to them, what to ask in the informational interview, and how to follow up after.
An informational interview is where you talk to people in the careers that you are interested in to get their personal perspective to better inform your career decisions.
Goal: know exactly the highs and lows of a career, how long it will take you to progress, if the job can fit with your desired lifestyle:
- It is the closest you can get to understanding what having a career would be like without spending the time actually in the job!!!
You must do informational interviews for every career path you are considering, it will really open your eyes and challenge your assumptions. Online research simply is not enough.
When I was trying to figure out my career, I met a TON of people and toured a lot of workplaces, and it gave me clarity. I talk more about my experience in this video.
Step 4: Choose a path and create a plan of action
You’ve done a ton of informational interviews, and now it is clear which career you would like to pursue. Now, talk to more people in your chosen field and take the best parts of their stories of how they got to where they are and follow their path.
I did this — I decided to pursue a career in HR after having an exceptional informational interview:
- Based on my informational interview, I followed my mentor’s path exactly, enrolling in the same master’s program, getting an internship at the company she worked for. Knowing her path gave me direction and focus.
Don’t blaze your own trail, others have come before you, pick their brain and get their tips. Ask for help all the time.
When establishing your path, you should know Industry, company, role that you want:
- In your job search, which is most important to focus on?
- Focus on the INDUSTRY before anything. Then the company, then the role. I explain why in depth in this video.
Now that you’ve done these four steps you are ready to start pursuing your career!
This process is so worth it to make sure you have a fulfilling career. For more career advice check out my YouTube Channel, Self Made Millennial. BEST OF LUCK!!
This article first appeared on Quora.