Lisa Misiewicz, DPT
HI there Katie, that is a great question!... I knew I wanted to be a Physical Therapist after working in many different jobs in a Nursing Home when I was in High School. This included reception, admissions, records, kitchen, nursing, PT and OT. When I started in Physical Therapy it provided the activity ( I am not a desk person) and personal rewards I was seeking by helping others. In addition, I knew this was a path to my own Business in the future. I have also used my medical background in other positions including research, biotechnology recruiting and product management. I point this out so that you understand how many other choices you have within each given field, so that when you decide on a path to go down in a career, you may be surprised at the number of related positions there are in each field, so that you are never locked into doing one position your entire career. Volunteer, work summer jobs in areas you are interested in, and keep an open mind.
I really think that careers often find you as you move through your courses as an undergraduate student. If you're like most of us, you'll find yourself drawn to particular types of classes and subjects and choose those classes more frequently. You'll experience an excitement and a feeling of "I can't wait to learn more about this" and when that happens it's a pretty good indication that it might be a good choice for you. I didn't think about teaching until after I had already completed my bachelor's degree, but was offered the chance to teach a class as part of my graduate school program and immediately fell in love with all that teaching had to offer. Keep in mind that there may even be jobs for which you'd be perfect that don't even exist yet, so try to learn as much as you can from as many different fields and departments as you can; you'll never know when something you learned in one of those elective courses comes in handy in a job or career years after you graduate. I think when you can honestly say, "wow....this is so cool I would do this even if nobody paid me," you've found your career.
I formulated an answer when many adults began asking me, when I was about 15. I picked law because I liked to do what I thought lawyers did -- read, write and talk. I also liked what lawyers didn't do: heavy physical labor, often outdoors, as I was doing all my teenage years.
I should have talked to lawyers (I knew none at that time) to confirm. and to learn that they do travel, which I hate.
this is a great question. For me it was trial and error; meaning I pursued (by whim) activities that "sounded interesting". I tried out information security and it immediately became obvious that it was the perfect combination of depth and breadth for me.
With the growth and changes in the data security field, I continually try out new sub-specialties; and occasionally stumble on even better fits. Here's a book that changed my life and heavily influenced my thinking and career trajectory - The Adventures of Johnny Bunko by Dan Pink.
All of the best