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How did you know what you wanted to do with your life?

I've almost done with college, I've taken plenty of courses, and I've had time to explore. I still have no idea what I'm going to be doing after I graduate. Where do I even start? #career-path #career #jobs


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Brian’s Answer

You never really know what you want to do with your whole life. Even when you pick a career, you will have passion projects outside your career. You grow, you evolve, you change. One of the biggest disservices the education system does to young people is to ask them what they want to be when they grow up. Be many things. Focus on your strengths. You just need to know what you want to be next. Some of the greatest masters in the world didn't choose the thing they were known for until they were "middle aged".

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Kim’s Answer

Ellie,

Take a deep breath. Let it out. Repeat.

You really don't have to know where you are going or what you are going to do for the rest of your life. You just sort of need to get started, with anything, and then you can transition to something else. People change jobs, and career fields, all the time! Often every 2-5 years. You will want to be able to transition to other jobs. You do this by having "transferable job skills" and by not being so far in debt that you cannot possibly afford to take a pay CUT if it will lead to greater opportunities.

Transferable job skills are things like customer service and computer skills. But it's more than that. It's how you explain on your resume that you are a good fit for the job. For example, when I left law enforcement, I went to work helping people find jobs. What strengths did I emphasize on my resume? Interviewing skills (I left out the word "interrogation!), ability to write detailed but concise reports, and maintaining the confidentiality of information entrusted to me. So, once you understand that you will be charting your own career path, and you don't really need to have concrete goals right now, you can get started. You will want to have career check-ups every so often. Look at the job listings, even if you aren't thinking about changing jobs. Know the current salaries. Keep your resume current.

Some people think about careers in terms of specific occupations. Some think of particular companies, as Jessica pointed out in her answer. Another approach is to think about what "industry" you want to work in. For example, you might want to think about health care. It has everything: medical professionals, administrative, billing, insurance processing, pharmaceutical sales, research and development, hospital warehouses and dietary departments, etc. The knowledge you gain working in hospital admitting or billing could be used to transition to a position with an insurance company. This way, you stay within the industry, but change occupations. Or, perhaps you start out in pharmaceutical sales, but decide its not for you. You could stay in sales, but change industries.

The future really is wide open, and the important thing to do now is to get that first job. Tell yourself you will stay two years. Then evaluate
and go from there! Don't let the fear of the unknown, and fear of making the wrong decision, stop you from moving forward. It's a big step but you have to take it!

(Also, like shopping for a house, or car, or apartment, sometimes it's easier to figure out what you don't want. So you might try thinking about that! For me, I did not want to have to get dressed up for work, or sit at a desk all day, for example!)

We could be a little more specific if we knew your major/minor. . . !

and congrats on staying in school - not always easy to do!
Kim

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Jessica’s Answer

Congratulations on earning your degree. I see this question quite often and please know that you are not alone. Many people, even seasoned professionals find picking one field difficult. I agree with Jasons’s commit to “try before you buy”. Too many times, people end up doing something called “work”. When you love what you do it’s not work at all, it’s enjoyable. When you can finish a work day with a smile and a sense of accomplishment you have find what you love to do. I would research what an average day to day is of the career choices you’re interested in. Also, research companies with the type of roles you’re looking into get a feel for the culture. There are some folks you chose their career based on the company they wanted to work for; just another angle to consider.
Good luck to you!
Jessica Miller

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John’s Answer

College commencements are just around the corner, and with them the annual deluge of advice for the soon-to-be graduates. Graduates are in for a lot of advice: some good, some bad, some that is repeated to the point of annoyance. This is a major turning point in your life, where the relationships you build, the skills you acquire and how much you learn from the mistakes you make will play a big role in what kind of professional you will be and the professional options that will be available to you. Absorb and consider everything, this is a time to be a sponge and learn as much as you can.

CULTIVATE YOUR SOCIAL SKILLS
So much in socializing and recruitment is based online these days, but the currency that will always get you the job is simply people liking you. And the more people who like you in your industry, the better network you have. Being able to carry on a good conversation is imperative to connecting with people, cultivating relationships therefore connections, and so many young people are losing that ability to connect with people to devices. Be interested in other people and be interesting, practice your social skills by calling family members and friends, introducing yourself to people you don’t know at a party and learn how to connect with people you don't know and how to put your best foot forward in conversation.

NEVER STOP LEARNING
The people who succeed, are not necessarily the people who graduate at the top of the class or have the most money or best connections, it’s people who are adaptable and con evolve with the industry and that are competitive and have more job security. So don’t get complacent, read the news and trade publications, be aware of what is going on in your industry and where it is headed. That way you can make sure to hone skills, or take classes to acquire a new skill if necessary. Do not let yourself become outdated.

DON’T HIDE YOUR AWESOME
Inexperience can be an asset so use it! Don’t hold back on sharing a completely different idea or approach, or questioning if there might be a better way. Your lack of “experience” could be the key to innovation so leverage that. If you’ve developed a template for tracking incoming orders or have used an amazing app for researching vendors, share that with your team. If there’s momentum around an area where you have expertise, don’t be afraid to volunteer to lead the effort. Remember that you don’t have to know everything to take lead on a project or task.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE MISTAKES
You are going to accomplish some great things right at the beginning of your career, and you are going to make some mistakes. Know that the mistakes are learning experiences, and that it is so important to make mistakes at the beginning of your career, otherwise you're not trying new things and you’re not learning anything. Make sure you take something away from them, because in that way they are an asset. Your mistakes will make you better. So don't be afraid to make mistakes, and keep moving forward when you do.

STAY THE COURSE
Your dream job and dream career are likely not going to unfold in the next couple of years. It’s going to be harder than you anticipated, and that’s okay. More often than not, people who have their dream jobs are not the most talented and the best people for the job – they are simply the people who never give up. So stay the course, keep your head down and work as hard as you can. Just because your desired career path is taking longer to unfold than you thought does not mean it will not happen. So stick with it.

Good Luck Ellie

Thank You Olanda. “Our generation has the ability and the responsibility to make our ever-more connected world a more hopeful, stable and peaceful place.” — Natalie Portman John Frick

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Sarah’s Answer

What I've learned after nearly 30 years of working, is how how important it is to find things that matter to me. It's about understanding things I deeply care about, that I want to be part of - and look for ways to earn a living there. This has changed quite a bit over the years, in ways I didn't anticipate when I was in college. In fact some jobs - like ones in social media - weren't even a thing we had back when I was in college.


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Vyla’s Answer

It's okay to not know what you want, but just make sure that you're exploring. I went through an incredibly different path to most people. I thought I had it all figured out growing up and knew what I wanted to do. I tailored all of my courses and extra curricular activities to that career path. It wasn't until I went to college and got into my major that I realised that it wasn't for me. I felt lost and I left school to travel. I came back from travelling with a much more open mind and saw what my friends were doing and learning from their different career backgrounds. I got a better idea of what I wanted to do and started working towards that. It takes time and you're not always going to have everything figured out. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses and use that to your favour. Don't feel discouraged, because we've all been there. It's okay to go at a different pace than your peers because the right opportunity will come and you'll be exactly where you want. Do what is right for you! It'll work out even if it doesn't feel like it at the moment. You'd be surprised how many people don't work in the industry that they got their degree in!

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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Ellie,

I was undecided with what I wanted to do for a career when I was in college. That meant, I could not stay focused on my college career. It ultimately took me 17 years to get my bachelor's degree. I find it interesting that you are almost through and don’t know what you will do with it.

I would probably start with a question – why did you take the major that you took? I am hoping that you took it because you were passionate about something. I did English because I love writing. I did business, because I wanted to be a supervisor. I learned languages, because I knew my desire was to see as much of the world as possible. I did end up settling on business since the other two items fit in there. I am now an Instructional Designer for a global company. It all begins with what you are passionate about. You may not know what the job is, so I would say, go for a job that is normally aligned with the degree that you are getting. Or is there a type of business that would be associated with your degree? Let’s think about an English major. I immediately think about the skills you earned with this degree and there are two careers that come to mind: Education and Marketing. Then pick one. You have to get started, so pick one. Please know this, you do not need to know what you want to get started on the road to finding it. Since you don’t know what you want to do, you have to stay somewhere. I would say until you gain confidence in yourself, start with jobs related to your degree. One day you may get to the point that I reached, that my degree doesn’t need to be in the field of the job that I want. Once you gave experience, you will find what you want to do. A college degree is a valuable thing to have. However, I know a lot of people who do not have a degree in the field that they are now in. College teaches you a lot about how to learn and discipline regardless of the major you took.

The answer to this question is inside of you. I will say that it won’t be easy, but it is worth diving in and trying a great many things. Good luck on your job search.

Gloria

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Jason’s Answer

I was in the same boat you were about a year and a half ago. I didn't have any particular interests and didn't know what I was going to be doing in life, but at the same time I needed to pay the bills. I went job hunting and found a staffing agency that helped me get my foot in the door with my current company. I'm very happy now and glad they took a chance on me. Maybe try working as a temp so you can get a taste of different industries/jobs/work environments and see if it's a good fit for you. As a temp you get valuable, direct work experience and a snapshot of the career you could be having. If you don't like it, no problem find another assignment! It's like "try before you buy" for both you and the employer

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Debbie’s Answer

One thing I did through my undergraduate career was try a bit of everything. I would contact professionals and ask them questions and their day to day operations and what they liked most about their jobs. I also did internships and would shadow professionals in potential fields i had interest in. I would make it a goal to learn about as many fields of interest as possible. Lastly, do not be afraid to pivot with career choices! I wish you the best of luck.

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shanice’s Answer

Hi Ellie

Its not always easy knowing what you want to do when you graduate, i remember being in the same situation many years ago. But i think the first you need to do is not put too much pressure on yourself and firstly think about the things that you enjoy doing and start there. You don't have to make the decision right away as most people go through there whole lives figuring out what career path is right for them. Once you have decided what you enjoy doing then you start there, and get a entry level job in that sector and as you go and meet people you will figure out where you want to go in your career. you may have to try a few positions before you find the right one that fits

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Lisa’s Answer

Think about what makes you feel fulfilled. Sometimes, what you go to college for doesn't even end up being what you do with your life and you have to be okay with that. I went to school to be a fashion buyer, and when I left college it no longer was what I wanted to do. When I sat back and dug deep I realized that my favorite thing to do or the thing that came naturally to me was to listen and give advice which is part of my giving nature. I am now a first grade teacher on my way to becoming a licensed social worker, and that is because I was okay with switching my dreams when it no longer felt purposeful. Whatever you choose to do just make sure it is a reflection of the things that matter most to you, and the things that you love.

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