“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” – Buddha
For some people, choosing a career is easy. For as long as they can remember, they always wanted to be a chef or a doctor or a teacher or a police officer. But, for others, choosing a career required careful consideration of several different options.
Regardless of how you came to your career decision, at some point in time you may question your choice. One of your classes may make you think about alternative careers, an internship may not be all that you expected. Or, you simply might evaluate your interests and wonder if you made a mistake. Well, let me tell you, you are not alone. It may feel that way right now, but rest assured you are not the first person to experience this self-doubt.
Many people have come to the frightful realization after having spent years of undergraduate–and sometimes graduate–training in their “chosen” field, conducting countless research projects, participating in numerous study groups and spending many hours in the library, only to realize that they are no longer interested in the career for which they were trained.
If doubts about your college major or future career are swirling through your mind, think about the cause of the doubts. Spend some time thinking about your feelings toward your major or your job. Is it the work that is keeping you up at night with doubts and unhappiness, is it the type of work environment, or is it the company’s culture that doesn’t fit well? If you enjoy your work, but not the company, it’s time to start researching other companies for a better fit and more agreeable work environment. But, if it’s the work you don’t enjoy, it might be time to consider a new career.
I have found in my travels that people have been starting over at all ages. Perhaps they always wanted to be a writer or a nurse. Or, they’ve discovered that they really enjoy working with numbers and want to explore professional training to become an accountant. It seems as though people simply want to be happy.
You can get back on track, and here’s how:
- Assess your interests. Before you can move forward, you need to know what you like and what you don’t like. Take out a sheet of paper and list all of the things you enjoy doing when you’re at work and at home, the things that get you excited and enthusiastic; and then make a list of the things you dread having to do. This should help guide you towards careers of interest. If you’re still not sure, consider taking an online career assessment quiz.
- Research new career opportunities. Changing careers can be scary. But, the more information you have on hand, the easier it will be. Do some basic research to discover more information about the various career opportunities. Once you discover your passion, learn about the jobs in that career field. What types of tasks are done on a daily basis? What companies offer jobs in that career field? What are realistic salaries? Do you need any specialized training?
- Be careful not to turn others’ dreams into yours. Many students that I speak with share that their parents wanted them to follow a specific career path–often to become a doctor or a lawyer. Or, they chose a career field because they wanted to have the same major in college as some close friends so they could take classes together. While there are many great career choices, remember, your happiness will come from making your own choice and choosing a career that interests you, not others.
- If you’re in school, you can change your major. First, talk to your parents and let them know you would like to make a change. This is especially important if they’re paying for school, as sometimes changing your major could mean staying in school for an extra year, depending on your coursework. Next, schedule a meeting with your academic advisor and talk to him or her about your new career interests. Together, you can develop a plan to change your major or add a minor to help you prepare for a different career. Your advisor also might be able to refer you to internship opportunities in your new career field or help you find a mentor to guide you through this change.
- If you graduated already, don’t worry about what your degree was in. Now that you’ve graduated and your diploma is hanging on the wall, don’t feel forced into staying within that career field. It is likely that there are numerous transferrable skills that you can take with you into a new field or job position. And, you can always attend professional workshops or seek a new degree if your new career choice requires additional education. Be proud of your accomplishments and seek ways to grow into your future.
- Volunteer your time, get experience and network. Changing careers means building a new set of experiences specific to your new career field. Join professional associations in the field and volunteer to help on projects, take on a leadership role in the organization and get active. Now is the time to build your experience and make contacts with others in the field who may be able to help you find your next job. You also can research companies and look for networking opportunities within the company.
- Be flexible. Preparing for and finding a new job in a new career can take time. It also might mean a cut in pay as you gain experience and work your way up the ladder. Keep your eye on the future and where you want your career to go, but be willing to accept the sacrifices you may have to make to get there. Be patient. Be flexible.
I hope these tips are helpful for you as you navigate and develop your career. I have enjoyed sharing these and other tips with you on Studentbranding.com. However, it is time for me to step down and allow another colleague to share her insights with you. I have enjoyed writing for this medium and wish you much success. Please welcome Michele Posehn, who will take the driver’s seat on the next blog.
Derren is the Manager, Diversity Recruiting for Sodexo which is a leader in integrated food service and facilities management. He is responsible for managing the Sodexo Future Leaders Internship Program as well as executing diversity sourcing initiatives for both campus and targeted experienced hires. With over 14+ years of experience with Sodexo, Derren has had great success as a General Manager in the company’s Health Care Services division as well as in several positions within their Talent Acquisition Group. He’s an active corporate partner with the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH). Derren is an AIRS Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR) and Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR). Follow him on Twitter, friend him on Facebook, or just Network with Us.