What advice would you offer to someone who isn't exactly 100% sure what type of career they want to pursue?
I know some interests I have, and possible careers I may be interested in, but I'm not quite sure how to decide or figure out which path is the right one for me. career career-path career-paths undecided career-plan
You could start with any teachers you might currently have in your areas of interest. They may be able to give you some advice or describe some careers that you are interested in. They may also be able to help you find professionals in those fields. Lots of people may be willing to sit down with you and talk about what they do - try to find people in the jobs you think could be interested in and see if they will answer some of your questions.
Once you get to college, take a few different classes you think could be interesting in your first semester - see if they are what you expected, and talk to those professors too. The career center may be able to match you up with alumni in that field to help you learn more as well. Listen to your gut - if something wasn't what you expected or you aren't enjoying it as much as you thought, think about looking for a new direction. I changed my major after a year and a half because I realized it was not what I wanted to be doing and not at all how I dreamed it would be. As long as you can still finish the requirements and graduate, you will probably be happier in the long run.
Lots of majors also can apply in multiple areas - if there is a general subject you are interested in, then you can use internships later on to figure out what specific field you would like to end up in. An example would be a business degree - there are so many different fields that most degrees can apply to that you will have options. Even in your first few years out of school it will be pretty easy to move jobs and try to find a good fit for you.
Elizabeth's advice is excellent. I would add that relatively few people are 100% sure what career they want to pursue in advance. That's partly because everyone learns as they go along, whether that is during college or in the first few jobs. Another reason is that people need a certain amount of knowledge and experience to understand the different career paths within a field. Even someone who is sure that she or he wants to be a doctor, for example, may not decide whether to become a pediatrician, a surgeon, or a radiologist until they are in the clinical part of medical school. The same is true of virtually every interest, whether in the sciences, business, literature, sociology, etc.
In addition, careers will change over time, both because people become more experienced and because the work itself changes. So while you are talking to alumni and other people as Elizabeth suggests, be sure to ask them about what they have learned during their career and how it has changed. That will give you important perspective. In general, people who choose careers which used skills they enjoy using are better able to make good decisions all along the way as things change.
Use this time to explore! Volunteer, Intern, Work, etc. it is extremely important to get experience within the fields of your interest because sometimes a profession may not be want it seems. Also, it is just as important to know what you don't want to do as it is to know what you're interested in. If you end up volunteering somewhere and you don't like it, look at it as you are one step closer to figuring out what you do like. Another good way to narrow down your interests would be to conduct "informational interviews" I learned this in college and it really helped me to narrow down the exact profession I wanted. Find about 3 people with a profession that you would be interested in pursuing, reach out to them and ask if you can meet with them to ask a few questions. Make sure you are prepared with your questions. For example, what is a typical day in (insert profession here) like? When I did this I realized that I did not want to be a high school guidance counselor because I did not like the high school setting. I did not realize how accustomed I was to the college environment and thats when I realized I wanted to be an academic advisor.
It is not uncommon for a student to be unsure of a career. You can begin a journey of exploration that will allow you to get to know yourself and how you might relate to a career.
Here is a site that will give you a fun way to start on that journey:
Talk to your favorite teachers to see what careers that they might see for you and ask them if they know of people in those careers that you could visit to learn more.
Talk to your school counselor about taking interest and aptitude tests and than arranging to talk to people at random or graduates of your school who that are working in those career areas.
It is important to talk to and visit people who are working in those career areas to see what they are doing and how they got there. A job may look one way on the outside and another on the inside. It is best to learn from people on the inside and see what the inside is really like.
Enjoy your journey! Send thank you notes to those who help you. Please keep me posted, I would like to follow your progress. Best of luck!
If you are unsure what type of career to pursue, you can always begin by exploring your interests. Think about what you enjoy and/or things that inspire you. This was actually my approach when I was navigating the big decision regarding what to pursue in college. I had a general interest in numbers, but I was still not clear what that meant in terms of a major. I finally settled on pursuing an accounting degree which lead to course work that really helped me refine my real interest.
I am confident you will figure it out, just start with what you enjoy.
My advice would be to pick one of your interests and get started. The worse outcome is that you don't love it - but at least you know. Then you pick something else and try it. If you are still in school, you could do internships and/or job shadowing in some of your area of interests to help pick a starting point. While a paid internship might be hard to find, you can look for short-term assignments that aren't paid; but you are at least getting exposure to the area to help you make a decision. I did several paid and free internships throughout college. Finally, don't put so much pressure on yourself to make the "right" or "forever" choice at the start of your career. It's not a marriage, after all.
One way to explore career fields and matching interests is by googling career clusters and exploring some of the sites that show up for example: http://glencoe.com/sec/careers/cclusters/student/clusters/business.shtml
Another is to go on line and take the Self Directed Search for $9.95. What Color Is Your Parachute, a book by Richard Bolles "A Practical Guide For Job-Hunters and Career Changers" is probably in your school or local library.
I was 35 before I figured out what I truly wanted to be when I grew up. There aren't many people who have the job title I made up and enjoy currently. I say, "relax and enjoy the journey".
It's ok to not know exactely what you wanna do as a future career, the most important thing is to take your time and get as many experiences as you can. There is no right or wrong decision, the most important thing as I said is to exprerience new things and learn. If you happen to choose a career that you did not like that's totally ok! If you are still at school, go for internships (even free short term assignments) to get a feel of the job market and figure out what really interests you...
Finally, Your career path will never be static, careers will evolve over time as people become more experienced and because of all the changes that can happen in the job market (New acquisitions, layoffs, etc..)
Good luck !