Hi Kat, this is a great question and one that a lot of people ask themselves throughout their career! For me personally, I started out in retail because it was easy to get a job and I didn't feel like I had any family connections to draw on. I ended up working at Starbucks for 15 years and held a variety of jobs there. I did start to get burned out on managing people in that environment, so at that point I had to take time to reflect on what to do next.
Here's what I did:
- Thought about the parts of my job that gave me a lot of satisfaction. You can do this with your personal experiences too. When do you lose track of time because you're so absorbed in what you're doing? Is it when you're solving a challenging problem? When you're working with other people? Working with animals? Working outdoors? Etc. (For me, the part of my job as a retail district manager that gave me the most satisfaction was helping people reach their potential, and also doing longer-term planning).
- Took stock of my strengths. You can do this too - think about positive feedback you've received, think about what you've gotten good grades on, get a copy of StrengthsFinders and take their assessment to uncover your strengths. (For me, my strengths were in communication, research, and training)
- Started talking to people about what they do and why they love it, to get a sense of what field to go into. A great starter question is "Why did you get into the line of work you are in now? And what's your career journey been like?" You can also go on Indeed or Glassdoor and read through some job postings to get an idea of what different jobs involve.
For more on how to explore your passions, strengths, and potential job opportunities, Quick video on that from Zenger Fokman here.
One other thing to say - self-reflection will only get you so far. There's no substitute for trying things out to discover what you're good at and what you enjoy. Volunteering or taking a different role that you usually do on school projects are good places to start.
Marca recommends the following next steps:
- Take a different role than you usually would on a school project. If you're normally the follower, try taking the lead. Push out of your comfort zone to try out new roles. If you're a little uncomfortable, that's a sign of success! You're doing something new in pursuit of your goals.
- Talk to a family friend about what they do for work, what they like about it, and how they got into that line of work.