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How does one choose the best career path for oneself?

I would like to know what are the most important factors when considering the best career path for oneself. I realize money is obviously important, however what about work-life balance, intrinsic and extrinsic awards, the speed of career progression, the type of education required to pursue the career, and the associated cost of the education? Are there other important factors to consider? Also, how should one rank and prioritize these factors when choosing a career? After all, if you're going to pursue a career for the rest of your life, you should pick the one that is best for you.

#career-choice #career-path #career-counseling #career #career-planning

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Subject: Career question for you


6 answers

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Angela’s Answer

Hi Albert

We all have asked this question. I hope this helps.

Good Luck 🙂

Think about your dream career. 

There is an old saying that if you’re trying to choose a career, you should think about what you would do if you didn’t have to work. If you had a million dollars and you could do anything, what would you do? Your answer to that question, while maybe not literally the best career choice for you, may give you insight into what you should do.

• If you want to be a music star, consider going into audio engineering or music composition. These careers are easier to pursue and you will be much more likely to succeed and provide for yourself in the future.

• For example, if you want to be an actor, consider going into media broadcasting. You can get a degree in communications or work your way up the chain of command in a local news or other television studio.

• For instance, if you want to travel the world, consider becoming an airline steward or stewardess. This is a great way to make a living and pursue your dream of traveling the globe.

Assess your hobbies.

 It is very easy to turn your hobbies or something you love doing into a future career. Many hobbies correspond to real world needs and positions. Consider what you like to do and how that might fit into a career. Remain humble as you work toward your goal. You may want to work part-time as you get referrals and experience in your desired career.

• For example, if you like playing video games, consider becoming a video game designer, programmer, or QA specialist.

• If you like drawing or art, consider becoming a graphic designer.

• If you like sports, consider hosting a sports camp or becoming an assistant coach.

Consider what you enjoy or enjoyed in school. 

Academic subjects translate well into future careers but may require more schooling than other types of careers. Your favorite class in high school could very well launch you into your future career but you have to be willing to work for it.

• For example, if you loved chemistry, you could look forward to a future career as a lab technician or a pharmacist.

• If you liked English class, consider becoming an editor or a copywriter.

• If you enjoyed math, consider becoming an actuary or an accountant.

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Simeon’s Answer

In general, some of these values are mutually exclusive. For instance, work-life balance and speed of career progression are mutually exclusive with one another. If you are going to move up the ladder, you'll usually have to make personal sacrifices by staying later at work even if you're done or going to a lot out social networking meals "outside" of working hours. Generally, you'll need to get a lot of education to get a job with a lot of extrinsic rewards. If a job is intrinsically rewarding, there is a good chance it won't pay a lot of money, but hopefully it'll be enough money to live off of. Hopefully, the more you pay for a degree the more useful it will be, but this last exchange is one that is often not the case, so it's important that you not take on debt that it'll be up in the air whether you'll land a job that will pay off that debt. If you can figure out which of these pairs of values you prefer, you'll be able to narrow down which careers you'd be interested in much quicker.
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Rachael’s Answer

I found the most impactful conversations I had regarding career choice came from those I had with professionals in the field because it enables you to obtain a first-hand perspective to determine if the career choice would be a fit for you. Speaking with someone within your immediate network could open the door for them to set you up with someone within their network. It sounds as though you have an idea of careers that might interest you. I would suggest finding professionals within those fields to inquiry what the factors you've identified are like in that field. You could start with someone within your parents or family members' network or depending on what stage of education you are in, speak with a guidance counselor or teacher (high school) or a professor, alumni, or office at your college/university (e.g. academic affairs, admissions, alumni relations, career and professional development, or graduate & professional studies).

Additionally, I would highly recommend shadowing a professional in the field you narrow your search down to and pursue an internship within that field that way you can witness first-hand if those factors you've outlined are indeed present and the career would be a fit for you.

Rachael recommends the following next steps:

Inquiry of a professional in the field of interest
Shadow a professional in the field of interest
Intern in the field of interest
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Richard’s Answer

I would recommend starting with what is of interest to you. I have changed my career several times over many years. I started in Sales with Fortune 100 company. After a couple of sales roles, I realized that it was not for me. I then got an opportunity as a Purchasing Agent, working withe Sales Reps. That Purchasing Agent role turned into a Contract Administrator role. In that Contract Administration role, I was able to work with talented Engineers. After a few years, a friend asked if I would like to try Recruiting (Engineers). I really liked that and it was what I am doing today. What you start with may not be what you end up doing, but you will learn at each and the experience from each will give you a unique perspective. But, start with something that interests you or that you are passionate about. It does not have to be forever.

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Dave’s Answer

It isn't about money.

It isn't about pride.

It isn't about what other people think.

The best way to choose what's best for you is being honest with yourself around what YOU like to do. What do you enjoy, what gives you a sense of purpose? What challenges you (in a positive way)?

Dave recommends the following next steps:

What would excite you daily?
What type of environment do you want to work in?
What do you want to create / solve / help / support etc?
Who do you see yourself working along side?
What is your ultimate goal (5-10 year plan).
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Wayne’s Answer

Albert, you ask a lot of good questions. It is obvious that you have put a lot of thought into this issue. There is no "one size fits all" answer to this issue that everyone faces since we are all individuals with different wants, desires and needs. That being said, here is my suggestion regarding this issue.

First you must write down that list of important factors and add items regarding quality of life such as "am I doing something I like" and "am I passionate about this field". The items you list are important considerations but they are the practical side of the decision. You must balance both the practical and emotional aspects of the issue.

Next you must look at each of these items and prioritize them for yourself since you are the only one who knows what your likes/dis-likes are, your financial goals, your ambition, your passions and how you hope to live your life. You are the only one who can answer those questions since if you try to let others answer them for you, you will find yourself trying to meet their expectations rather than enjoying the freedom of following your dreams and passions.

I would recommend getting to know yourself as well as you can. There are several free or low cost personality analyzers available on line as well as published. Search for them and take a couple to get a feel for what they indicate your personality to be. Then take the "Strengths Builder 2.0" survey (the book is available on line and at a low cost) to identify your strengths. Use this information and go to your school councilors and teachers and set up some time to discuss how you can leverage those personality traits and strengths into the job market (what type of jobs you would excel in).

Now that you have an idea of what "type" of job to look for (managerial, clerical, physical, emotional, etc.) make a list of all of your interests and passions. Do you like: helping others, sports, agriculture, medicine, science, research, indoor/outdoor activities, etc? This list will assist in deciding the field you should look at. The type of job can be found in almost all fields, but the field is where you will derive your job satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment.

Use your school councilors, teachers/professors and ask questions. Find people in the field you are interested in and see what they do and what opportunities are available. Start building a network within that field by building friendships.

Always remember that you are in charge of your career. It is no one else's responsibility. Decide for yourself what you expect and want and then use the tools to help you get there. Always be open to change however. Personally, I started my college career as a Physics major and graduated with a degree in Animal Science. That degree helped me get started doing something I really enjoyed and has led me down a path so that I am currently working for a high tech computer manufacturing company.

I wish you the best in whatever you decide to do.

Wayne recommends the following next steps:

Take a personality survey
Take a strengths survey
Discuss the results with councilors, teachers and professionals
Prioritize your wants/desires and your interests/passions
Look for professionals already working in the field of interest and start building a network