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When do you know when a career path is right for you?

I am a junior in high school. I'm interested in maybe teaching or the medical field but I am not exactly sure what I want to do. career-paths career

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Sirlei’s Answer

Hi Alondra,

I believe you know when a career path is right for you when you try it and fill contentment in that career.
That's one of the reasons I think it's very important for students to try to get an internship or part time job in the area they hope to work in some day while they are still in college. This allows for you to live the day to day, ask questions from people in the field and make changes in your area of study while still in college.
You can always change jobs later on too, if you don't feel content in your job.

Forbes has a pretty good article on this topic, called "7 Ways To Know If You're On The Right Career Path":
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Magy’s Answer

My response is pretty similar to what Sirlei answered above. You'll know it's the right career path when you enjoy what you're doing, you get a sense of fulfillment, feel you are making a relevant contribution, you are being challenged to grow but are not getting burned out or overly drained by it. You won't really know the right path until you've tried it and like it. However, I would recommend doing some research into an area that you're considering before jumping in, and maybe reach out to someone in that field to shadow them a bit before taking the plunge.
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Kevin’s Answer

-"Success happens at the crossroads of opportunity and preparedness"-have a career path in mind but don't be so rigid you are not willing to pivot. Another opportunity may come along that aligns to what you have been doing to prepare for a given career path but not be exactly what you had in mind.

-When you find something that excites you, motivates you, and keeps you engaged.

-When work does not feel like work.

-Find a company or workplace whose values also align with yours. Not just stated values but they live these values out.

-Don't be afraid to fail or switch careers. Just because you believe a path is right for you, don't be scared to change

-Be passionate, find something you can continue to learn and improve on your craft. Don't let outside pressures (family, status) determine what you decide to do.

-There will always be things in any career path that you don't like to do. Reflect on this and ask yourself if 80% is centered around your passion vs 20% of other things you may not like, this is normal.

-Focus on things that you feel can make an impact, not necessarily title, or salary.

-Know your professional goals and ensure your career path aligns with the goals you want to accomplish. Think long term, 20-30 years if you can. Where you are in life can impact what you value

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Howard’s Answer


The best way to know what career path is right for you is to experiment with what you really enjoy and inspires. I originally was a business man for 17 years but always loved teaching, even in my company. I would help on assignments that involved teaching others. Later on in my life, I was able to land a job in a college as a teacher and I have been doing this now for the last 25 years.

Find your passion and sometimes it might take you awhile. When you find it, you will know because you will love what you do. It is not about the money. It is about what you love to do. If you love the job, you will be motivated. If you are motivated you will suceed and then perhaps even earn a great salary. Hope this helps and best wishes.
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Simeon’s Answer

For teaching and nursing, see if you can shadow someone from either field doing their job so you can get an honest and transparent perspective on what it's like to work in those fields. Both are glamorized and the difficult parts of those jobs aren't often talked about. If neither feel like a good fit, I would go to the department of labor's website ( and see which fields are growing quickly these days. If you're drawing a blank on what you'd like to do, see if any of the fast growing fields call out to you. This will give you a lot more structure than trying to get a vague sense of your passions and trying to brainstorm a way to turn it into money. Most people don't have a passion that they are aware of right away. Also, passions tend to change from season to season. Lastly, look at videos on YouTube of people in their careers talking about what they love and hate. See if any of their descriptions sound like a good fit for you. It's just as important to figure out if you can deal with the downsides of a job as it is to figure out what you'd love about a job.
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Brett’s Answer

It really depends on your priorities. Some people prioritize money so being in the most lucrative career that matches their abilities/talents is the "right"career. Others might prioritize free time or even a certain feeling of accomplishment for completing tasks. When I first started my career there wasn't a lot of hiring going on in the jobs I was really interested in at the time so I prioritized a job that I was interested in and paid relatively well. This kept me going for 5 or 6 years but when the interest in the job began to wane the money wasn't enough to make it interesting anymore so I looked for a job that was more varied and intellectually challenging. I've been there 20 years and while I still am intellectually challenged and still love my job my priorities have shifted and I am considering jobs that maybe don't pay as much but give me more flexibility and while maybe not as intellectually challenging will allow me to make furniture and possibly other things that will last for generations and hopefully bring joy and beauty to someone. In your particular case take lots of different classes in college and figure out which of these possible career choices excites you most NOW -- You can always change later and heck you could actually do both as getting a medical degree and then teaching is not unheard of or even getting a degree related to medicine (biology, chemistry) and then teaching is also path. To sum up my long winded answer --- Don't get wrapped around the axle about what you want to do figure out what your priorities are and if they change maybe so does your career.
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Eric’s Answer

I have several bits of advice I've given to my kids.

- First, you're still young and growing. There is a good chance that you will change your mind over the next few years, and that's ok. It's all part of the process.

- I tell my kids to form three career lists: (1) those things you really enjoy, (2) those things that you are good at, and (3) those things you can eventually do to support yourself. Now look for the careers that appear in all three lists; those might lead you to the best choice for you.

- Shadowing is a great way to learn more about a career. It lets you see what "a day in the life of ..." is like, and it also helps you build relationships with professionals in those careers you are considering.

- As you research, shadow, talk to professionals, etc., keep in mind it's ok to figure out that you DON'T like a career. Crossing something off your list can be helpful, too.

- And finally, nothing is cast in stone. Even when you are done with school and in the 'adult world', it's ok to change careers.

Good luck!

- Eric
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Julie’s Answer

This is a smart question. A very high percentage of people do not end up doing what they majored in during college. And I think the statistics show that most people change careers 4-5 times over the course of their lives. That said, certain fields require an early commitment. Medicine is one. I would figure out which colleges offer the ability to pursue pre-med classes while also enabling you to get credit for experiential learning in that field, and the ability to move over into another major if needed. The best way to learn if you like something is to do it! I would recommend volunteering in a hospital, emailing doctors to see if they would be willing to talk to you about their profession, what they like and don't like, what a typical day is like. You can then match it against what you like and don't like. But of course you will change over the next couple of years! As for teaching, the great thing about that career is that you don't have to decide during your time as an undergraduate. Most teaching roles require a master's degree. So you can use your time in undergraduate to explore. You can take a pre-med track and also some liberal arts courses, find different things you enjoy. The best teachers love what they teach. For you is it science? Math? Also, volunteer at a local school or after school program. Find out if you like working with teenagers, small children, etc. The one thing I know for sure though, now that I am 47 is that what you like now may change. So find a school that allows you to experience things and change course as your interests change. You don't have to have it all figured out now.

Julie recommends the following next steps:

Find a school that allows you to take pre-med classes but also take a variety of courses to learn your interests
Teaching requires a masters degree so you don't need to worry too much about undergraduate. Use that time to explore specific interests.
Volunteer in schools and hospitals to see how it feels.
You will change over the course of your life and that is ok! You can enter most fields later in life. Getting a medical degree does take an early commitment though so volunteer in hospital settings and talk to as many doctors as you can to see if it seems like fit.