3 answers

How do I find the right career path?

Asked

Teachers, family members, and friends advise you to pick a career / career path that you will enjoy. The problem with that is I don't know what I want to do. I don't want to wait till the last second to pick my career choice either. I know I would prefer a job that involves helping others and / or kids, but that's about all. Can anyone help me find some career choices or give me some advice on how to pick one? #education #counselor #children #social-worker #people

3 answers

Etienne C.’s Answer

Updated Washington, Washington

Figuring out what career you would like to pursue can be very challenging. There are, in fact, many adults who still finds themselves confused and hop around from job to job, trying to figuring things out.

The good news is, you do not have to have everything figured out right now. Additionally, your career will take many twists and turns. The best thing I like about your question is that you have already identified, to some degree, the kind of person you would like to be. And that is really critical. There are many career paths that will enable you to be a helpful person or work with kids, so you have many options that will bring you happiness.

One thing I would urge you not to do is to get caught up in search for your "passion" and looking for a career that matches it. Instead, focus on your unique talents and gifts, and research some ways that you can use those talents to help others, particularly kids.

In his book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, Cal Newport actually suggests that following your passion is bad advice. Instead, he urges us to build “career capital” by mastering rare and valuable skills, and then leveraging those skills to find interesting and meaningful work. In other words, by focusing on skill development in the early stages of your career, you will prepare yourself to generate deep passion later in life when we have been primed to make meaningful contributions in your field.

This does not mean that we should slave away in jobs we do not like hoping for passion to manifest. However, it does suggest that passion is difficult to identify before we have acquired relevant skills that help highlight opportunities for us to make a true difference. And acquiring skills take hard and sometimes frustrating work.

Newport also notes that it is important to develop a unifying mission for your working life. One that not only helps provide satisfaction on the job, but also injects meaning into the work you do and can provide you with a sense of purpose. But, he explains that a career mission should only be developed after building substantive career capital.

So what does this all mean?

First, I think your goal should be to figure out the best way to help you build career capital. In other words, how can you build upon and strengthen the skills and talents you already have? Don't know what skills and strengths you have? Try out something like Clifton StrengthsFinder, which you can find online and do for free.

Second, think about the kind of person you would like to be like. You mentioned that you would like to help people, particularly kids. That's great. But take some time to dig deeper and develop a personal mission statement for yourself. What kind of person would you like to be in your personal and professional life in the future?

Lastly, research places where you can practice using those skills to fulfill your personal mission. If you want to help people live healthier lives, and you are talented at math and science, then you could explore medicine, but also public health, engineering and even psychology. Just remember to be flexible. If you get too fixated on the final destination, you will miss the opportunity to discover new paths along the way.

You may not know what kind of career will provide you with that feeling we call "passion" until you discover it during your journey.

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Great response, Etienne! I couldn't agree more. Lexi K., it's very likely that over your lifetime, you will have several sub-careers, all of which use different skills and talents that you have, and which contribute one piece of your personal mission.
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This is also a good video to watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veriqDHLXsw
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<a href="/users/4881/etienne-c/"><a href="/users/4881/etienne-c/">@Etienne</a></a>: That is a great video. I also really agree with the comment about not getting caught up in a "passion" search and instead focusing on applying skills and talents to help others. I think that is especially relevant if you have concerns about financial stability - finding something valuable to do is a great way to become employable.

Kristy’s Answer

Updated Boston, Massachusetts

You need to do a 'Discovery' profile on yourself. Its a complex process that you can make very, very easy by answer a few basic questions about yourself; being completely honest with yourself. 1) What do you like to do for fun 2) Do you like people, in general---adults, kids, youth, or none 3) What types of environments do you like--inside, outside, small rooms, large rooms, etc. 4) Do you want full/part time work 5) How do you see yourself next week, month, year.... etc. 6) Do you want to enhance what you already know or learn something new

These types of questions will help you answer what works and what does not work for you, specifically. Also, should you still not be able to pinpoint something; seek an adviser that will assist you with finding your inner you. You are already all that you are going to be, its all inside of you; you just need to nurture it and make it grow!

I do hope this help!

Lindsey’s Answer

Updated Irvine, California

Hi Lexi, Trust me when I say that you are in much better shape than most, simply by being able to identify what you enjoy. Knowing you like to help others is a GREAT place to start. I too had the same passion and I ended up working for an edtech (stands for: education technology) nonprofit startup (none other than this platform, CareerVillage.org!). I recommend looking into different summer job/internship opportunities at local nonprofits that interest you. The more you get out there - the more things you try, the more people you meet and talk to about their jobs - the more your own destined career path will reveal itself.