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How did you know what you wanted to do for your career?

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In what stage of your educational life did you realize what you wanted to do or are passionate about? I feel pressured and stressed about the fact that I don't know what to do because I feel like everyone else does. Are there any suggestions as to what I should do to get a sense of what I like? Thank you :) #college #career #career-path #career-choice

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29 answers

Morgan 🌐’s Answer

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Consider; You don't know, so you get to try all sorts of interesting things. Don't feel bad for not knowing. I simply enjoyed tinkering around in Windows machines and that led me to IT work and consulting.
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Amanda’s Answer

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Arisa,

Everyone's advice has been point on! I totally understand what you are going through. That was me 100%. First piece of advice I wish I could give my younger self would be to stop comparing myself to others. It's a natural instinct and one that is hard to break. This is an area I am still working on. BUT, when it comes to your career your mindset will change as your mature and grow on your own. Even when you are forty you will most likely have new career aspirations due to the experience you gained in your thirties and so on.

As a college freshman I thought I wanted to be a journalist, but then I could not pass a grammar and spelling test, and turns out I had a learning disability that was never diagnosed. Sophomore year I thought I wanted to be a vocal music coach, but all the foreign language classes were too hard, and I couldn't see myself in that career any longer. I eventually went to the campus career counselor, which was the point in which everything changed. I was tested on a series of aptitude interests and questions, and when I got my answers I was shocked. First it said flight attendant which was a my secret career as a child, but then I knew long term I wanted to be close to home and that was not realistic; the second career was speech pathology, but I couldn't see myself in that line of work long-term, the third career choice was counseling/psychology but thought of even more college (graduate school) was terrifying, but I did it. I took all the classes and finally had motivation in my coursework which led to increases in my GPA. I was accepted into a Student Affairs/College Counseling Master's Program and while in the program I fell in love with Research. I eventually got my PH.D. in Research, Statistics, Evaluation, and Assessment, and again found a new passion for teaching. From here I began a career in health and wellness sales, and now I am an Account Executive for one of the top Consumer Packaged Good companies and I am able to combine everything I love! To expand, my passion for helping others, for utilizing data, for mentoring young professionals (like yourself), to driving the business and making a positive change in my work environment.

So as you can see as you experience different life events, seek some career counseling, be transparent with yourself, and NEVER GIVE UP! If you have a dream go for it, do not let anything stop you!

Best of luck Arisa,

Mandy
I appreciate how you bravely walked down different paths to see if it was something you’d like to pursue. Then continued to self-reflect and adjust throughout your life to find what you were interested in! Marina Baker Translate
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John’s Answer

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Arisa, first you need to understand who you are, what gets you out of bed every morning. Sit down and ask yourself what is it i love doing is a good start. From their you can sitting down with your career counselor, they probably have all the connections to set you up with a mentor in your dream job.

TURN YOUR PASSIONS INTO YOUR CAREER

Since you can only have one career at a time, your goal, after learning about all the careers that might be a good fit for you, is to eventually have one remaining that is the BEST fit. Try not to eliminate any profession from your list until you do some research, even if you think you know something about it. You may be surprised by what you learn when you dig for information. If you cross a career off your list because of some preconceived notion, you could end up eliminating one of your best options.

START WITH THE BASICS – At first, you will just want to gather some basic information about each occupation on your list. Let's assume you have a list of ten careers. Before spending a lot of time on in-depth research, do some preliminary fact-finding that will allow you to narrow down your list. It will include looking at a job description and labor market information, including job outlook, median salary and educational and training requirements.

DELVE DEEPER – After learning about all the occupations on your list, you will find that several of them don't appeal to you. It could be for a variety of reasons. For example, you may decide that you wouldn't enjoy the job duties of a particular occupation or that you can't or don't want to meet the educational and training requirements. The earnings may be lower than you thought they would be or the job outlook tells you that employment opportunities will be poor. After completing your preliminary research, you will be left with a list that contains between three and five careers on it.

GET SOME EXPERIENCE – After you complete your in-depth research, you should be able to determine which career is a good match for you. Try not to get too frustrated if you can't make a decision by this point. You may not have enough information yet. Continue to do more research until you can comfortably choose the ​best career for you. You will want to learn what working in the field is really like before you actually work in it. The best way to do this is to talk to people who do.

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Hillary’s Answer

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It took a while for me to figure out what I really wanted to do. I think finding the right career path is about figuring out the intersection of your passions and your pragmatic needs.

I tried different hobbies, had various jobs, and read a lot of different things before finding out what worked for me!

Best of luck!
Helene
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Matthew’s Answer

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I started job shadowing certain jobs I found interesting to know how they were done professionally, the level of education needed to obtain that job, and ask the person I was shadowing general advice about if the job would be right for me. I also took a personality test to show me areas I would like the most and the corresponding jobs that follow those said areas. Furthermore, I also did some projects relating to each job by looking up beginner videos on youtube (how to edit videos, building a headphone amp, etc.). Doing these things allowed me to get a full understanding of what each job required and if I was the right fit for it.
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Donna’s Answer

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I took an assessment where I answered questions about my personality and what I enjoyed and it gave me some options based off of that. The answers that stuck out to me where HR and Marketing. In the end I went the route of HR and more specifically Recruiting. The best piece of advice is to start your research early. You can always think you may want to do something and get into it and it not be for you and that's okay. But the more information you have to shape your decision early on is so important.
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Staci’s Answer

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I think it will take time. I graduated with a Finance degree but ended up doing recruiting for the last 20 years. You just need to be open and pay attention to what interests you.
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Angela D.’s Answer

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Hey Arisa! Great question! Okay, let's start off with some ideas and other questions. Do you have any hobbies, worked, volunteered, enjoyed certain classes/books/shows/games? What interests and motivates you? Do you like hands-on activities, computer-based ones, or being social? These are key questions for you to ponder upon. And...do you want to go to a four-year college/university or pursue training (a certificate/two-year degree) instead? On-the-job training? There are several free online career interest tests that may be helpful, but I will leave that to your discretion as some are more reputable than others. Ask your School Counselor if you can take a Myers-Briggs test through your school. The results will be helpful to you.
For instance, hands-on activities lend themselves to mechanics, engineering, electrical, medical, etc. types of careers. Computer-based interests can encompass IT jobs such as Security, Help Desk, Systems Analyst, Computer Technician, Web/Digital/Mobile Designer, etc. If you like the creative side of IT, then you might want to consider Website Design, Gaming Tester, Multimedia Artist/Animator, Sound Technician, etc. If you like being social, then Customer Service, Hospitality, Social Work, Teaching, etc. may be of interest to you. A way to get at your interests in a more concrete way is to shadow (basically following an individual around in their workplace for a short time) and/or interview people in the careers that you might like. I would suggest a short 10-minute phone/Skype interview or a shadow time of 30 minutes or less. Your school counselor may be of assistance in this to point you in the right direction, provide resources, and even provide contacts in your local community. You may want to put together a short resume that shows your professionalism to a potential shadow/interviewee/employer. It can be brief...if you need pointers on this, please contact us. Best, Dr. B

P.S. Okay, this may sound a little funny, but my favorite make-believe role to play as a child was to be a teacher, I would organize fun coloring games, art, math challenges, science projects, etc. in my neighborhood. Growing up beyond that, I tutored and mentored. So, long story short...not only did I become a teacher as an adult, but eventually a professor who teaches teachers as well!
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Robert’s Answer

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Hi!!!

Honestly... I didn't know what I wanted to do!!!! I have now worked for the same company for coming up on 6 years now and will not be leaving! I am now 36 and enjoying my career by just helping people. Find what interests you the most and don't be scared to take chances on other jobs you never know you may find your career for life!
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John’s Answer

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You shouldn't feel stressed by what other folks are thinking or doing. You must go at your own pace. Sometimes the right choice on a career takes a lot of time. But if you find a fulfilling career, it's worth it. Enjoy what you are learning along the way. And stay open to serendipity by thoroughly reading a Sunday paper or looking through magazines you normally don't read. All of a sudden, something might jump off the page and tell you, "This could be your career." . . . If you are less certain of your career when you leave college than when you begin it, then congratulations, you've had a tremendous college experience. That's because college should broaden your mind, not narrow it.
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Terry’s Answer

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Not until well into my first year of college did I have a career path. Take different classes and find out what interests you. If you're not sure, try business classes so you can experience a variety of careers out of college. My career and job the first few years out of college, took me to the career I've been in for over 30 years and was not at all what I studied! :) You never know what job or career will take you to the next job or your favorite career. Try different things early on. It all lays the ground work to future jobs! Enjoy!
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Caitie’s Answer

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There are a lot of positions that do not meet an obvious category but that are rewarding and needed within companies! I would focus on what your interest areas are and what you like to do functionally- problem solving, being technically challenged, working with people, working with numbers/facts, story telling, teaching, organizing, leading etc. and as you research types of positions ask professionals in that job why they like it, what they end up doing for majority of their time. Try internships or research online job descriptions, forums, chats or communities to get information on the pros and cons of different careers.
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Gloria’s Answer

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I actually didn't come into my career choice until my early 30's. It sometimes takes getting a job to get some experience with what you are passionate about. That can be a difficult thing. I spent a lot of time on college classes in five degree programs, trying to find my way. Looking back, I think that I would have benefited from having just a general degree, such as Liberal Arts, where I would have been exposed to a wide variety of ideas to consider. In my work experience, the fact that you have a college degree is sometimes more important than what your degree is in. It seems strange. There are some jobs that require a specific Bachelor's Degree major - such as Education or Nursing. However, in my current business unit which is Training and Development, there are degrees from Computer Science to English to Liberal Arts to Music. So you can see that work experience has probably paid a major role in the job that each of us have. A major that is broad like Liberal Arts or Business can give you access to a variety of jobs. I found an article that made a better case than I could for a Liberal Arts degree: https://www.goodcall.com/news/liberal-arts-degrees-011201/

Good luck on your search for a major in college. You will learn a lot by going to college. That experience is priceless.
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James’s Answer

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Amanda has a great answer. I personally found my career path with my first job after earning an MBA. And, it's not a path I planned to take! I interviewed for just about anything I was qualified for (or close enough) and ended up being "wowed" by a small company in an industry I knew little to nothing about. They offered a job and I took it, that was nearly 20 years ago.
The point is, do your best to focus on things that interest you in terms of the curriculum you study and the jobs you interview for. But, keep things open, you never know what will be the event that helps you find that perfect job or career path. It's OK if you graduate without a 5-year career plan! Even once you get a job and start down a particular path, it's very likely that you'll make at least one career change so don't feel like you have to plan your entire career now.
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Scott’s Answer

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Now in my 40's and I still don't know for sure...but I have been in Real Estate for 17 years and am glad to be where I am today. I changed majors 4 times in college and my job has nothing to do with any of my majors. When I returned to college I ended up getting a degree in television and film, just to get a degree, as I had already seen about half of my friends had jobs outside of their major.
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Michael’s Answer

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I just decided what was most important to me and what the ideal day was for me. I knew that I wanted to help others and have some purpose. I also knew that I wanted to make money and not be confined to a rigid work environment. Outside sales allows me to be a consultant to my customers, have variations in my days, and make an unlimited amount of compensation with a base salary and commissions. From there, I just decided what I had an interest in, which was technology and finance. I also enjoy doing fun things, so taking clients out to dinners, sporting events, and other fun activities was a plus. You have to find a product you are passionate about, in order to be an advocate. It’s like seeing a great movie, and sharing with others that they should see the movie. You are doing it, because you think it is great. If you don’t feel that way, you may be able to fake it for a short period of time. After a while, your sales will suffer or you will hate looking at yourself in the mirror. Be true to yourself, and you will always make the right decisions. Situations may change, and your career choice may change. But if you are always true to yourself, the rest will take shape by itself.
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Ari’s Answer

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I had an idea of what I wanted to do for a career in my junior year of high school but by the time I got to my senior year my mind had changed and I knew that I wanted to major in accounting in college. Everyone decides at their own pace and some people know earlier than other what career path they want to take. There is no right or wrong answer. I think it is a matter of narrowing down your interests and strengths.
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Terry’s Answer

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Not until well into my first year of college did I have a career path. Take different classes and find out what interests you. If you're not sure, try business classes so you can experience a variety of careers out of college. My career and job the first few years out of college, took me to the career I've been in for over 30 years and was not at all what I studied! :) You never know what job or career will take you to the next job or your favorite career. Try different things early on. It all lays the ground work to future jobs! Enjoy!
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Riley’s Answer

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For me, I knew from a young age that I enjoyed video games and my strongest subject in school was math. This made it pretty easy for me to decide that I wanted to go into the tech field somehow. However, you don't need to rush into this decision! Pretty much all colleges will allow you to complete freshman year with an Undecided major. This might be a good route for you because it is much easier to decide on a major once you get to college because you will meet so many new people and most freshmen talk a lot about their individual majors at the beginning of college.
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Aicha’s Answer

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Hi!

I feel like I’m still trying to figure things out too! I did have a passion for theater so I decided to pursue that in college! However, there’s days where I feel as though I should have chose something else but then there’s days where I love it.

Don’t feel stressed out to have to have it all figured out right now! You have so much time to choose a career! This chapter of your life is the best time to experiment with different things. Figure out what you are passionate about and find volunteer opportunities that match that. Go out and network with the people around you! Knowing people will also help you expose yourself to different careers.

But don’t beat yourself up because you don’t know yet. Continue to take to look at your interests and just do some research!

I hope this helps and good luck!
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Deborah’s Answer

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I have had 3 careers - I am currently in real estate. I was travelling a lot for another job when I realized it was draining me. Real estate kept me closer to home, I was in charge of how much or how little I worked (obviously working a lot was better) and I loved seeing different apartments and houses in nyc. It was kind of a free ticket to see how people lived and to help people realize their dream of a good home.
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Amanda’s Answer

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You have a great question, and I think that most of us in careers still struggle with this! Please don't feel like you're the only one that doesn't know what they want to do in their career. I do think that when we are younger we feel like we have a sense of where we want to go and what we want to do, but it's rare that it really shakes out that way. I've been in the working world for 12 years and still wonder where I'm meant to be at times.

I knew what I wanted for a college degree- my parents ran a business so it only seemed natural to get a degree in business, but my passion does not lie in owning one of my own. I think it's important to understand what you enjoy, what are the subjects in school you enjoy? Think about what you like to do out of school and what would that look like as a career?

I agree with many of these comments- know yourself and what makes you tick and ALWAYS be open to opportunity and learning! I've had my fair share of jobs I haven't liked, but those were learning opportunities for me and I LOVE the job I have today. If I didn't go through the learning opportunities, I wouldn't be where I am today!
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James’s Answer

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Career choices made in college do not have to be permanent decisions. If there is a field that you have interest in, then try to gain exposure to related jobs (even if it's unpaid experience) to get a sense if you could make a career of it. Plenty of people change majors in college and even transition industries once in the workforce. Once you gain job experience and build a resume, many of the skills are transferable across different fields. Use your college's career resources and focus on networking to develop a sense of what you may be interested in. Run with that interest and if you need to make adjustments, know that there are opportunities to do so.
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Michael’s Answer

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I just decided what was most important to me and what the ideal day was for me. I knew that I wanted to help others and have some purpose. I also knew that I wanted to make money and not be confined to a rigid work environment. Outside sales allows me to be a consultant to my customers, have variations in my days, and make an unlimited amount of compensation with a base salary and commissions. From there, I just decided what I had an interest in, which was technology and finance. I also enjoy doing fun things, so taking clients out to dinners, sporting events, and other fun activities was a plus. You have to find a product you are passionate about, in order to be an advocate. It’s like seeing a great movie, and sharing with others that they should see the movie. You are doing it, because you think it is great. If you don’t feel that way, you may be able to fake it for a short period of time. After a while, your sales will suffer or you will hate looking at yourself in the mirror. Be true to yourself, and you will always make the right decisions. Situations may change, and your career choice may change. But if you are always true to yourself, the rest will take shape by itself.
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Teresa’s Answer

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Figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life can be daunting. There is no set time frame to figure out what you'd like to do, career wise. There are countless people who have recently graduated from high school and don't know, just as there are people who are in college and haven't decided yet. That is completely okay and fairly normal! Speaking for myself, I didn't figure it out until I was in my mid-thirties! Many people change course in their careers, after gaining some experience and first hand knowledge.

Depending on where you are (high school, college, in the workforce), utilize any resources you have at your disposal. Maybe you have a career counselor who can help guide you or you know someone in a field you think is interesting. Reach out and ask questions. There are also online resources, like quizzes, that may help steer you in a particular direction.

Just remember that you're allowed to change your mind and you're absolutely allowed to not know what career you want to pursue!
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Robert’s Answer

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Hi!!!

Honestly... I didn't know what I wanted to do!!!! I have now worked for the same company for coming up on 6 years now and will not be leaving! I am now 36 and enjoying my career by just helping people. Find what interests you the most and don't be scared to take chances on other jobs you never know you may find your career for life!
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Suzanne’s Answer

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Hi Arisa,

I knew from a very young age that I wanted to become a nurse. Life, however, took me on a very different course until my mid-twenties. I studied music up to that point.

It became necessary for me to go back to school and pursue my earlier ambition of nursing. It turned out to be the best decision of my life. In retrospect, I only wish I could have gone further with my education into either advanced practice nursing or obtain a PhD.

So, any advice I might give to you would be this: what do you really like or feel passionate about? Do you dream of helping in any way? What school topics make you think and ask questions? What hobbies or activities give you the most enjoyment?

Please don't be discouraged thinking others know what they want to do. Most likely, they will change their minds during their lifetime. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to develop insight into yourself, what you like, what the world needs, and how you might play a part, through your career choices, to make the world a better place.

Hope this helps!!
S
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Hubert’s Answer

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I would say I found my calling in High School. I always thought I would be a basketball player and I will be all set, but that did not happen that way lol In HS I was always good in math but did not see myself being a math teacher. During that time, I did not know the vast career choices out there for individual good with numbers. One day I saw a business course called accounting and decided to take it. Once I took the class, I excelled in it then my peers and that when I knew this was for me.

Not everyone going to have the same experience as myself, some people find their calling early, and some find it later. As long you find it is what matters. I would suggest to just try everything that you are interested, and whatever you are great at see if there some sort of career in that in some sort of way.
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Jason’s Answer

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This is a tough question to answer because it will be very dependent on the individual. A lot of people will tell you that you should follow your interests and make a career out of something that is of interest to you. There is probably some validity to this point but the problem is that sometimes you just don't know what you want to do. And sometimes you'll start down one career path, only to wind up on a completely new track a few years later. This happened to me and it happens to many other people too.

If you're worried that you may end up switching careers late then one strategy you may consider is majoring in something that can be used in just about any field. Accounting, finance, data science, engineering, computer science are all degrees that are applicable to just about every industry. If you go on the job boards you'll find that most of the jobs available are in the data/IT fields and it's likely that this trend will continue.
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