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What if I am not sure what I want to do when I graduate?

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100% of 4 Pros

5 answers

Porscha’s Answer

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It's completely normal to be unsure of exactly what you want to do when you graduate. And guess what? That's likely to change throughout your life and career. I was working in financial services after college and wanted to get a masters in health administration. I ended up attending a lot of networking events and programs for recent graduates to see what all was out there. I ended up going into management consulting and love it! I got my MBA years later once I decided I wanted to focus specifically on Organizational Management.

I'd say think about the things that you enjoy doing both at work and outside. Do you volunteer or help your friends and family with things because you are the person they go to for answers? Do you want to travel for work? Do you want to work for a big corporation or possibly a smaller non profit. Ask questions, look a job descriptions out there and see what grabs your interest. I'd definitely recommend having an idea of what you want to do when beginning graduate school so you can make the most of it. You got this!
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Kim’s Answer

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Hi Jennifer!

Relax, and take a deep breath! While some people seem to know from the age of 10 that they are destined to be doctors, most people really have no idea, and, even if they say they do, ten years after graduating college you will find them in a career unrelated to their degree! How are you supposed to know what you want to do if you haven't tried it?

Good news! There are free college classes on-line. They are called MOOCs. If you want something a little less intense, try the ed2go.com website. These are classes that run for 6 weeks, with 2 lessons a week. They are usually about $100 each.

There are several factors that are important in helping you through this process. Are you living at home, and, can you keep living at home after school, or, do you want or need to become independent? Will your parents pay for schooling, or, are you paying for it?

Sometimes it is easier to figure out what you do not want, and start narrowing it down that way:

Computers/technology?

Bookkeeping/accounting?

Science( research, veterinary, climate change) /Medical/ Healthcare support (radiology, physical therapy, admitting office, dietary technician)

Automotive mechanic?

paralegal/attorney/document retrieval specialist?

More good news: Many people change jobs every 2-5 years. No longer do people stay with one company for forever. So, you can start out in one field, and cross into something else. To do that, you will highlight your "transferable skills" on your resume. So, if you start out working for a mining company, you could later get a job at a bank specializing in lending money to mining companies. And from banking, can go into financial planning, etc etc. etc.

It's really not necessary to nail it down right now! BUT, the important thing is that you don't go out there and just start drifting through life. Before you know it, you will be 40, wondering where the time went. So, a general plan is important, even if you don't have specific goals. If it is affordable, I'd recommend at least a 2 yr degree in some general field - marketing, business, etc. OR, consider military service, Peace Corps, or something like that.

Hope this has been helpful!

Kim

Thank you! Jennifer M. Translate
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Jing’s Answer

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Hi Jennifer, I had the same experience as you do. I did not even realize that was a problem. I just followed what teachers and parents told me to do and what my peers did, then I survived. But I'm not going to tell you that was a good solution to your question. Now after almost 10 years of graduation, I do think there's definitely a much better way to handle the situation.

First of all, follow your heart. You know, we spent most of our non-sleeping time working and making a living, so it is really important that you take something you really like. Then you can gain a lot of happiness from it.

What if you don't have a strong desire for anything? Then do your research and consult . I've seen my younger brothers and sisters don't have any preference at all in terms of the jobs they want to do in the future, and all they want is just a way to make a good living but not tired out. I would say nothing is easy and you will always get tired out somehow, but you can make it worth it by making a good choice. Google the annual income for different jobs, pick one that you feel like learning and making enough money. Ask your parents and senior relatives, they may have a better idea of what jobs fit you better than you know, since they spend time with you and know your personality much better.

Lastly, if you still haven't landed on some conclusion. Then just try out whatever available to you, so just don't waste any time doing nothing. You may get someone who's willing to mentor you and help you get somewhere.

Jing recommends the following next steps:

  • Understand what you truly like to be a job
  • Job market research and consult seniors
  • Try out anything available
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Rafael’s Answer

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Hi Jeniffer,

I was working for 3 years in strategy consulting, when I realized I wanted to change careers. The good news for you is: any experience you have both in school and at work, will help you with your next steps.

In my case, I tried thinking of all the things that I had done to see where I found the most joy and where I could make the most impact given my abilities. Additionally, I had a vague idea that I might like some other areas I had no experience at. I still wanted to make a move that I knew it was going to be the best for me. I read the book "Designing your life" from Stanford professors and it basically guided me throughout this journey of testing different paths and possibilities. I would highly recommend that you do something similar to that. The link for more information about the book is: https://designingyour.life/the-book/.

Another great news for you is: as a grad student, you have developed solid problem solving skills throughout your thesis and you can for sure leverage that in your next steps - this is a highly desired skill in the jobs market. Use this and anything else you have learned in your career as an advantage when searching for your dream job.

Hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions or if I could help any further.

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José’s Answer

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It is quite usual for teenagers not to know what to do with their lives or what to study at university once they finish high school. It happened to me, and what I did was to follow the suggestions of the vocational guidance counselor at my school. I selected three study careers in the university in order of preference and applied tests in several of them to guarantee obtaining a place in one of them. However, I joined the Navy to be a naval officer. That path did not work and yet I can say that I did not lose 8 months of my life. Rather I matured and got a wider vision of what I wanted to do. Then I entered one of the universities where I had deferred studies. So Jennifer another possibility is considering a non-traditional post-graduation path that can give you a better sense of purpose for whatever you decide you want to do in life. You can also defer college acceptances for a year or some months, so you won't have to start from scratch when you return. If you're not convinced though, or have no idea what you'd do with that time off, consider some alternate post-graduation paths like travel, do charity work, save money, do military service, look for an entrepreneurship activity, learn a trade and/or concentrate and look for your true passion.

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