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How does a person decide on an area of study without a vision of what they would like to do?

My roommate was going to school and took a semester off because she was really unhappy and unclear of where she was headed. She started taking classes again, but still feels lost and without grasp of her future. We were talking over breakfast this morning as she was expressing her frustration to me. The advice I gave her was to take a moment and think about what makes her happy. She responded with possibilities of programs to study, but couldn't seem to have find an answer. She knows she wants to go to school, but is currently taking classes without direction. #business #career-counseling #career-path #career-development #undecided

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From: You
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Subject: Career question for you

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Jenna’s Answer

There's nothing wrong with taking some basics- no matter what career you choose, you'll have to get those out of the way, so that's a good place to start. Don't worry about direction- but pick a lot of different types of classes. Then she should think about what she liked in those classes- the topic, or one class or thing that she read that was interesting, and that's a good place to start. She could also volunteer with areas she is interested in- for example, work with animals, adults, the library, other organizations to see if there is anything that is of interest there. And read everything you can- see what looks interesting! Good luck! (You don't have to pick right now- just see what catches your attention.)

Thank you comment icon Thank you for your response! I particularly like the idea about volunteering to get a sense of different situations. I will pass this on! Laiz
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Marie’s Answer

Going through school and taking the necessary courses to graduate will help to define areas of interest. The courses teach more than fundamentals, they teach critical thinking, the instructors give insights to things one may not have considered, through programs like internships, volunteering, on-campus events something at sometime will likely trigger a desire to learn more in an area that will eventually wanting to learn more about a specific area.


It's great that she is continuing with school, it's an experience that will help define what one finds interesting. I agree with Jenna, "just see what catches your attention.

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Gerard’s Answer

Very good advice provided above. I will echo a good deal of what Ken had to say. Seek help and assistance from many of the resources available and follow your heart/gut.

I have seen that the people with the most successful careers are those that are able to move forward with clarity on what they enjoy and are good at. Advice is good, but listen more closely to where you feel you can make the greatest contribution and you will enjoy the most.


"The man who does not work for the love of work but only for money, is not likely to make money - nor find much fun - in life." - Charles Schwab jr.

Thank you comment icon Thank you for your response! I agree that following our heart is something we have to do. I guess sometimes we simply need to build up the courage before diving in. Laiz
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Ken’s Answer

Hi Laiz!


Success in finding an appropriate career area is an individual process. Success is a feeling when one experiences fulfillment and satisfaction with what one is doing in life. Success is looking forward to going to work or whatever activity one does during the day and enjoying it. Success is self-actualization and development of one's own interests.


Success starts with getting to know one's self. Completing these exercises will be a good first step to getting to know yourself:
https://www.themuse.com/advice/14-free-personality-tests-thatll-help-you-figure-yourself-out


A good next step is to get more information about those interest areas identified in the above exercises and learning how one might possibly prepare for them with the possibility of experiencing fulfillment and satisfaction. Selecting a career area is like buying a pair of shoes. They may look great, but you need to try them on and walk in them for a while to determine the proper level of comfort and fit. The most frustrating times I spent when I was doing college recruiting were the times when a graduate, once on the job, determined that he/she did not like the job for which he/she had studied, as he/she did not take the time or effort to do appropriate "shoe shopping" and pay attention to their feelings of "comfort or discomfort".


Here are some good ways to get some great information and career exposure:
- talk to your school counselor about participating in coop, intern, shadowing, and volunteer programs that will allow you to see what people do, how they got there, what advice they have, and how you feel about it.
- talk to the head of alumni relations at your school to arrange to talk to graduates working in your area of interest to learn more from them - as many people get their start at a community college, talk to the head of alumni relations at your local community college to arrange to talk to graduates in your area of interest to see what they are doing and see how they got there
- talk to the head of alumni relations of any training program or facility related to your areas of interest to get valuable information from graduates and create valuable relationships.


Best of luck! Be true to yourself. The feeling and concept of success is yours - and is very personal. Let me know if this is of help.

Thank you comment icon This is very helpful. Thank you! I will pass on the advice :) Laiz
Thank you comment icon You are welcome. Please keep me informed. I would like to follow progress. Ken Simmons
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chiara’s Answer

I would say, it's a step by step process. Throughout your experiences, you find your skills, your ways, what works for you and what does not.

But to start out, figuring out more about your left and who you'd like to be, I'd have fun with it, cause it is a beautiful thing.

This is a fun time in life to explore curiosities and learn so very much! There are hundreds of personality and career enthusiast tests out there, but these sources, and tests, I have found to be interesting, fun and somewhat accurate (if the questions are answered most honestly to the self)!

This is a grand time in life to develop further innate skills, pursue a passion and/or a dream!

Have fun:

- https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test
- https://www.truity.com/test/big-five-personality-test
- https://careerwise.minnstate.edu/careers/clusterSurvey
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Simeon’s Answer

The starting point I usually recommend is going to the department of labor's website and seeing what the fastest growing fields are. That will give you a starting point if you're drawing a blank about what you'd like to do. I'd also recommend looking at YouTube videos where employees discuss their favorite and least favorite parts of their jobs. One of the downsides to a lot of career decision materials is that they don't usually tell you the downsides of different careers, so it might help you narrow down the options you're considering.

Also, I think it's wise to take a moment and step back and look at the human side of things too. The idea of deciding your career and the rest of your life right now is a lot of pressure to put any person under. Most people don't have a clear and strong passion that they're after. I like recommending business degrees for those going to college because it allows you to cast a wider net in terms of potential futures to choose from. Most people end up switching careers at least once or twice. I think it would be wise to tell her she has plenty of time to find herself, explore the world, and develop a sense of her interests.
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Jimil’s Answer

It can be difficult to decide on an area of study without a clear vision of what you want to do in the future. Here are a few steps that might help your roommate to explore her options and find direction:

Assess her strengths, values and interests: Encourage her to take a career assessment test, this will help her identify her strengths and interests and how they align with different career paths.

Research different fields and career options: Encourage her to research different fields and career options. Talk to professionals working in fields that interest her and learn about what kind of jobs are available and what education is required.

Try new things: Encourage her to explore new activities, take on internships, volunteer work or participate in clubs or extracurricular activities. This can help her identify what she enjoys and what she's good at.

Consider alternative options: Encourage her to research alternative options such as vocational programs, apprenticeships, trade schools, and online courses.

Seek guidance: She should speak with a career counselor or academic advisor, they can help her understand the long-term benefits of different educational paths and assist her in creating a plan that aligns with her goals and interests.

Re-evaluate: Once she starts classes, encourage her to re-evaluate and be open to change. Sometimes our interests and goals change as we gain experience, and it's important to be open to new opportunities.

It's important to remember that finding a direction and the right path can take time and effort.
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Damien’s Answer

If you're thinking about what a field of study and uncertain, here are a few tips:

Damien recommends the following next steps:

Consider what you enjoy doing - you'll devote many hours (to creative writing, solving equations, performing experiments, etc.)
Determine and quantify your ideal lifestyle (where do you want to live, do you want kids?) - find jobs that can support that lifestyle
Ask trusted people for advise - how do they see you?
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