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How do you know you found the perfect career that suits you best and what can I do to make sure I found the perfect career for me? During a pandemic, would my decision be more what benefits me financially or what makes me happy?

Hello my name is Paloma and as of right now I am a sophomore in high school. I'm not too sure what I want to do or pursue as a career now that I am thinking of it. I will like to gain some knowledge and maybe advice as to how you knew and chose what you wanted to pursue. With so many choices and decisions to make it can seem over whelming and very difficult. #college #career-choice #planning #career-counseling

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Sheryl’s Answer

Hi Paloma,

How are you? Hope you are staying well!

As someone with a lot of experience in many different jobs, I would say first and foremost, you should follow your heart. Think about the things that you like to do with your time right now. What about your hobbies? What are you passionate about? In your career, you are going to be spending 40-50 hours a week in a job. You will be much better off being in a job that you love than in a job that you hate because you took for financial reasons.

I have always believed in the saying "Do what you love and the money will follow." There are also many situations where people take a job to make money that they are interested in but also pursue their passions on the side. Also, no one says that you have to stay in the same job for your entire life. Both my husband and I have been in about 5-7 different jobs throughout our lives. For me myself, I started out in the television industry and then things happened in my life and I ended up in three different retail jobs and several different non-profits. Right now, I am an office adminstrator for a non-profit organization that I am passionate about. The key is to make yourself versatile and flexible to new opportunities.

On the other hand, my brother pursued his love of TV production and he was passionate about the WWE and he has worked for them for over 25 years.

The good thing is for you is that you are young and you can explore lots of career paths. I would say that you should look for virtual internship opportunities or part-time jobs for the summer. With COVID19 in play right now, you can look at websites like Udemy to take classes on things that you are passionate about online. Most of them are free or very low cost. Also, there may be businesses in your area that are looking for volunteers for virtual class or work online. Do some research in the subjects that you are interested in.

Hope this helps! Good luck!
Sheryl
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Matt’s Answer

Hi, Paloma,

When I was in high school, I had an idea of what I wanted to do when I graduated. Then I graduated, went off to college and changed my mind about what I wanted to do. It wasn't long before I changed my mind again before finding something that was a great fit for me and led to a fantastic career.

When it comes to finding a career, don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Sometimes the best jobs are the ones you didn't think you would enjoy or be comfortable doing. Also, be willing to try different jobs to see if you'll be happy doing one of them. I would recommend looking for something initially that you're passionate about, not necessarily the one that's going to make you the most money. I have found that while the money can be nice, if I don't feel a sense of purpose behind what I'm doing, I won't be happy in the job. To me, the jobs that are worth doing and sticking around for, are the ones that actually help others in some way and will challenge you in some way, shape, or form on a regular basis.
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Nadia’s Answer

It may sound a bit surprising, but there is no such thing as "the perfect career" :) especially, that everything may change, including your family and financial situation, interests, hobbies, mood etc. Even if generally you like your job, sometimes you can feel overwhelmed and just don't want to get out of your bed. Also, jobs are evaluating all the time.
What I've found very refreshing is that you can always move to another job, add something to it, change the industry or move abroad. It's not a choice or commitment that you make for the rest of your life, although - of course - if you want to change something, most probably you'll have to put extra work on it.
Use this pandemic time to check different things or activities, but don't put too much pressure on yourself, just try to enjoy them. There are multiple online resources that can help in identifying your basic career interests or get more information about jobs.
Based on my experience, if you don't know what to do, it's good to start with an internship in a corporate company. Most of them have different departments (HR, finances, Operations, Development etc.) and it's easy to switch or adjust your role to your interests.
Don't forget that even if your current job is not the ideal one, before quitting it, you can always try yourself in afterwork projects, initiatives or become a volunteer to see if you are ready for a change.
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Jose’s Answer

Hi, Paloma good luck in your journey. I would offer that you are alright right where you are. Not many people know what they want to do for work at your age. Heck there are grown-ups who don't know. Count yourself lucky if you did know and sometimes those who think they know wind up changing their minds. Hopefully, though you're trying to be a good person, respecting others, and doing your work. Learn that you don't have to please everybody nor do you need to be everything to everybody to help take the stress and pressure off of you
You're may be feeling overwhelmed because there's just so much information out there and you're finding that you are liking a lot of different things? I like this but oh I like that too and so on, ah man now I'm confused cause there's so much to choose from. Does this sound familiar? Let me suggest a simple scenario. Let's imagine you're in a candy shop and you can have whatever you want to choose from. How would you go about it? Walk around decide on what you like and don't like and take some of every type of candy you like, take a lot of the same candy that may be you love, or run around like a chicken without a head just grabbing ( the example is just to create a perspective). What I hope you get out of the example is knowing what you really like, like a little, or not at all. Consider sitting down and take inventory of what you like, etc. This means, planning your life is another way to help separate things out in your mind and lessen or hopefully remove the overwhelming confusion. Make sure to invest in yourself by taking the time to sit down, think, and plan. Do me a favor and don't do work just because of money. The work you choose to do should be an opportunity for you to express yourself creatively through your talents, skills, and abilities. You figure what you can do, find where and how you can manifest what is inside of you and believe me everything else will follow. Do the work, be patient with yourself, and if at first you don't succeed pick yourself and keep at it!

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Marcus’s Answer

Great question!! I would say to find the perfect career, you first have to find your interest. Find what you like to do best, or what you enjoy. Once you understand your interest you can pursue your education accordingly. Use that education to enter the field of your choice. You can then become more specific as far as location, salary, and specific job preference within that field. Ultimately, this should help you find a perfect career for you.
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Aicha’s Answer

Hi Paloma!

Deciding what you want to do for your career will sometimes be a very difficult choice because there are so many options or you may just be unsure. Don't feel the need to have a choice right now because it is ok to not know. If you are not in college yet you can still go and just declare your major as undeclared this will allow you to take core classes in the mean time while you search for a major.

In my opinion it is nice to have that balance between doing what makes you happy and what will have you financially secured. However, I think happiness is very important because you want a job where you are going to get up everyday and enjoy. I think it will just take some searching and time to find a job that fulfills both of those things.

Overall, just sit down and see what things you are passionate about and see if any jobs relate to your interests.

I hope this helps! Good luck.
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Tammy’s Answer

Hi Paloma!

That is great that you are starting this process now. I remember when I went to college and they asked me to declare my major, I had no idea! But I did some sole searching and reflection on what I had done in the past with limited experience and what I enjoyed doing. For me it was a Business Major. Then later in my junior/senior years in college, I took classes that helped fine tune particular areas of concentration which I enjoyed (Marketing & Management). Ironically, today, I am still doing that.

I think it helps if you take the time to write down things you enjoy doing. Maybe even ask peers, teachers, friends, family what they think your strength are as that may help you define it better. Even as a professional in the Hospitality/Entertainment industry for many years, I still ask peers and other leaders what they think my strengths are to further direct my career and what fuels me. You are always learning and growing.

Now is also a good time to virtually volunteer. Maybe there are areas that you will discover you enjoy doing. When we can all come out of quarantine, perhaps you can do an internship. Again internships can help you learn either what you do enjoy doing or what you don't enjoy doing. At least you can start eliminating.

Good luck to you! You will be GREAT in whatever you choose to pursue as long as you put your heart and mind into it!
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Hugo’s Answer

Hi Paloma,

We all go through this at some point. Sometimes more than once in life. And that is okay. You need to think about things that you like to do, or have an interest in. It's your life to live so chose a career that will make you happy, not someone else. There is a book that truly helped me and I believe it will help you too. It's called Roadmap, by Roadtrip Nation. Don't get an used book because you're able to make notes, draw, etc on this book... make it yours :)
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Matt’s Answer

Hi, Paloma,

When I was in high school, I had an idea of what I wanted to do when I graduated. Then I graduated, went off to college and changed my mind about what I wanted to do. It wasn't long before I changed my mind again before finding something that was a great fit for me and led to a fantastic career.

When it comes to finding a career, don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Sometimes the best jobs are the ones you didn't think you would enjoy or be comfortable doing. Also, be willing to try different jobs to see if you'll be happy doing one of them. I would recommend looking for something initially that you're passionate about, not necessarily the one that's going to make you the most money. I have found that while the money can be nice, if I don't feel a sense of purpose behind what I'm doing, I won't be happy in the job. To me, the jobs that are worth doing and sticking around for, are the ones that actually help others in some way and will challenge you in some way, shape, or form on a regular basis.
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Victoria’s Answer

Life is a journey where you try things out, evaluate if it is for you and then make decisions based on your experience. Another added level of complexity is that you yourself will also change and what your interests and values are at one point may change and the job that you thought was meant for you no longer is. The bottom line is the idea of something being meant for you is a goal that is unrealistic. Instead reserve time for introspection to figure out what you want in life, career, etc and figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are, tie those together and figure out what careers align with such - this will set you up with more alignment in what you want that may not be something you are conscious of and tie it to a career.

Figure out what your life goals are (ie. work to fund your hobbies, work as your hobby)
Figure out what you want to learn from a job, what you value in a job
Figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are
Figure out what jobs align with your personal abilities and your personal & professional goals
Figure out what opportunities are closely available to you (ie. school network, campus recruiting, personal connections, etc)
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Adele’s Answer

Hi, there is a wide world out there full of opportunities and challenges. My best advise is to think of what you like (sports, child care, arts, etc} then think about would you be happy doing something everyday that involved one of your favorite things? As a long time nurse I remember always liking to care for people especially children, so I reviewed my option of teaching/nursing. I chose nursing and spent 40 years as pediatric nurse of which I must say I loved, maybe not everyday as that is impossible but most and glad I went that direction. I think you also have to look at what type of programs are offered through colleges/trade schools and would the fulfill you meeting your goal. Not everyone needs a 4 year degree but may find a trade school with hands on learning is best or starting at a community college and meeting the general study requirements before choosing your career path. Often volunteering in an area of interest helps you see the working side of things, what life is really like, the ups and downs of a work day. Talk with peers, sibling and parents as well as outsiders about career paths to gain a broad perspective into various work fields. Take your time as what you do 40 hours a week for years affects your well being and happiness. Good luck
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Dexter’s Answer

Hi Paloma,

Yeah, I totally understand why you feel overwhelmed. Especially given where you are in life, I bet you feel like you can do almost anything, which makes choosing a single career seem kinda crazy. I mean, how can you lock yourself down to a single job that you know so little about, and on top of that, no one in this world seem to have a good handle on what the short or long term future will look like. And if all these so called experts don’t know, how are you supposed to know and choose a path for yourself that will guarantee success!?!?

Well, just to let you know, I felt like that when I was in high school. I mean, I told people when I became a senior in highschool that I wanted to go into aerospace engineering or computer science, but I really didn’t know what that meant. For me, growing up with not much, I knew I had to earn lots of money to help support my family. I also knew that I was pretty good in math/sciences, so that just pushed me to go into engineering. Did I know that it’d all work out? Nope. Did I know that I would love engineering? Nope. Did I have a guarantee that it’d all work out? Definitely not. Since high school, I flunked out after the first year in college, graduated with a degree that didn’t end up contributing to my career, and only by the luckiest breaks did I make it to where I am now. And you know what, a lot of paths look like this. People are given the perception that the world is very solidified where you choose a career in highschool (as that affects what you do after it), learn the craft for it, then start that job and happily ever after. But literally everyone I know has had at least some kind of kink on their road to being a professional. One wanted to be a PhD to find out that they didn’t love college after they got their BS degree. One thought that they wanted to be a bio engineering professional to quit, then go into being a physical therapist. One graduated law school to find out that his calling was to be a programmer. I have hundreds of stories I know like this.

What I’m trying to get at here is that I don’t think your goal should be to paint a crystal clear path for yourself. I would advise that you should think about the future and get a good general direction for yourself, but to keep your eyes open and be well versed in many different things so that when life throws a curve ball at you (and it will), you are flexible enough to deal with it. When these changes happen (even if they’re devastating and seem like an impossibility at first), all it means is that you just need to course correct, choose a new path, and move forward. Like they say, “This too shall pass”.

So to come back to your original question. I think the question of finding a perfect career is a impossible question to answer. It really depends on how you define “perfection”, and I think one needs a lot of ignorance to achieve “perfection”. I would ask you to reframe the question so that you aim for a career that simply makes you happy over a long period of time. I think even people that like to say that they have a perfect career would state their unhappiness with certain days and tasks.

I’m sorry that I rambled for so long, but I wish you the best luck, and thank you for asking such an interesting question!


Dexter
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Randolyne’s Answer

Always choose happiness! As we are seeing through this pandemic we can do more with less. Like Mark Twain said "find something you love to do and you'll never have to work a day in your life." You will know when you've found the career that best suits you when your days are short because you enjoy the work and when asked about your profession you answer with a smile. A career best suited for you will highlight your strengths and passion and allow you work to improve your weaknesses to get to the next level. The money and stability will come with it.
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Simeon’s Answer

I'd look up the Department of Labor numbers for which jobs are doing well right now and see if any of them line up with your passions. In my opinion, the most important thing is to make sure you rule out jobs that will make you unhappy for sure, even if there is great financial benefit. If you're in a bad enough job, you won't care about the financial compensation at all. At the same time, I'd warn against expecting a job to fulfill all of your greatest passions. A job wouldn't be paid and would be volunteer-based if it was a dream-come-true to work there.
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Jesus G’s Answer

Hi Paloma!

First, think about what you already like to do that requires very little effort on your part to actually start doing it. This is usually some sort of passion you may already have. Research on whether you can do that passion for a living.

Next, you may grow out of your current passion and your interest may change in the next 3 years of high school. It's important to understand that and be ok with it. Let yourself experience new things and be open to new challenges that can boost your resume in the future when you apply for a part time job or college.

I'll give you an example, when I was a sophomore in college my dad gave me the choice to go up north and work in the fields as a migrant to gain experience in hard manual labor work. It was tough, and I missed out on all the summer outings with my friends, but here's what happened next. I learned the value of hard work and the importance of an education, no one can take that away from you. Because of that experience, I got admitted into a program that gave me college experience during my junior year of high school. Then, that same experience got me into another program called Youth Americorps where I did over 900 volunteer hours during my senior year of high school, of which got me experience in organizing events and having a real job at my local Boys and Girls club. This experience awarded me several scholarships by the time i applied for college.

So bottom line is, allow yourself to experience new things and let those experiences take you to places you're happy to be in, even if at first you have to sacrifice a little. Hope this helps!
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Devin’s Answer

Hopefully your career and what makes you happy is the same thing, but understandably you may need to think about financial security when making a career choice. Seeing as you're very young, consider that your career is a life-long journey and that there will always be time for growth and change later on down the line. Going into college, you'll be offered multiple opportunities to explore different areas of study and career paths and are able to change your mind many times. Try not to stress on this now and just focus on what you enjoy in school and you'll be better rewarded in the end.
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Mary Jane’s Answer

I love your question and I felt the same way in high school. I knew I wanted to help people in some capacity and explored guidance counselor, teacher, nurse, etc. Since I was not definite, I started college majoring in education. I did love it and it gave me the opportunity to take so many diverse courses. I discovered I loved psychology--I liked learning what makes us think and behave the way we do. While I got a degree in Secondary Education with a major in Psychology, I decided I didn't want to teach in the classroom and went on to get a Masters in Social Work. This lead to many variations from clinical work, to supervising, to writing curriculum's, to fund development (raising money) for non-profit organizations, to business consulting to help team work together better--remember I loved people dynamics and what makes us tick. From there it evolved to executive coaching--using my counselor skills to help leaders get along better with people and lead my effectively. This transition to using my sales skills for a major company by conducting sales coaching.

So, back to your question--do not stress over your perfect career--find your passion first, what do you enjoy doing when you have nothing else to do--what career uses those skills? Take the many career inventory tests on the market, many are free. Just search "career inventory test".

Where ever you start in your career, I can bet you will not end there--you will continue to grow and evolve and find your passion over and over again. Good luck!

Mary Jane recommends the following next steps:

Take a career inventory test
Take an interest test
Speak with your Guidance Counselor about job shadowing opportunities
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