How can you know what career is right for you? It’s a highly personal question that only you can answer.
But there are ways you can narrow down your decision and help clarify which careers might be the best for you. Once you learn that, then you can map out a path to achieving the career you want, including which field of study you should pursue, what activities you should be doing, and how best you can gain the skills and knowledge you will need to achieve your ambition.
What Interests You?
The right career for you should appeal to your interests, aptitudes and values. Your personality type is another consideration that you need to take into account. Why? That’s because all of these things will determine how successful you will be at your chosen career. They also will determine how happy you will be in once you begin your new career.
So the first thing you need to do is to learn as much as you possibly can about yourself. That may sound like a simple task: After all, you already are yourself. Nobody knows you as well as you, right? Wrong! You may be familiar with your innermost thoughts and experiences, but you need to see yourself objectively, the way other people see you.
Use Online Resources
To help you understand yourself better, you can use online resources, such as personality tests and self-assessments. You also can consult with a career development counselor, or a career development facilitator who can steer you towards the personality tests and other criteria you can use to determine your objective strengths and weaknesses.
These types of resources are helpful in narrowing down the types of careers you would like and be successful at. Various tools can be used to gather information about yourself and match this data with potential careers.
Use Free Resources
Before you go and spend a lot of money on these type of self-assessment services, make sure you research and use the options that are available to you for free. Typically, your school or public library will offer some type of career planning help or at least will be able to direct you to a public local agency that can help you. It’s also worthwhile to check with local colleges and universities to see what kind of services their placement and career services offer.
Another option is to search for programs that train career counselors on how to do their jobs. They may be willing to use you as a practice case at little or no cost just so they can gain experience.
Try New Experiences
If you have an area of interest, look for opportunities to gain experience before you commit fully to this field of study. For example, if you are interested in law enforcement, see if your local police department has a volunteer auxiliary that you can join to gain experience. If you are interested in the sciences, volunteer at your local lab or check with academic institutions to see what options are available to you.
Many companies offer internships for young people who are interested in learning more about possible careers. Find the best opportunities in your area and gain as much experience as you can in order to see if that particular field is right for you.
Consider Your Family History
Often, looking at the types of careers your family members have can give you an idea of what you might be good at. For example, if one or both of your parents are teachers, you might have an interest in a career in education. If there is a long line of firefighters in your family going back many generations, then that could be an area for you to pursue.
The opposite also holds true sometimes. If you want to try something completely different than your parents or siblings, then removing their careers from your list of consideration can help narrow down your options.
Be Realistic about Your Opportunities
When choosing a new career, it’s a good time to be ambitious. But you have to temper that with realism. Some career paths are going to require you to leave home and move far away. If you aren’t willing to do that – or you can’t because of family obligations – then you might consider which are the major industries and available jobs in your community and start your search there.
Don’t Limit Yourself
On the same token, where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you’ve always dreamed of being an astronaut or an architect, even though these careers may take you far from your home, if you are committed you will find a way to achieve your dreams.
Finding the right career for you isn’t always easy. But if you stick to it and are persistent, you can eventually find a job that you will love.