Now more than ever, jobs don’t have to last forever. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the average baby boomer held 11.6 jobs between the ages of 18 and 46, and millennials are likely to wear even more hats in the course of their lifetimes. Even so, the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is worth careful consideration, particularly when you’re in college and getting ready to enter the workforce. In a great post for NerdWallet.com, writer Alexandra Rice outlines “7 Tips on How to Choose a Career.” Read on to see what she suggests.
1. Be a Shadow — By spending even a single day with someone in one of the fields you’re considering, you’ll likely be able to decide whether it’s a career to keep on your list.
2. Schedule Informational Interviews — Along the lines of job shadowing, informational interviews give you the opportunity to speak with people who have careers you’re considering and learn more about daily responsibilities, educational requirements, and more. You might find out you need an advanced degree you’re not interested in earning, and in situations like that, you’ll be able to cross things off of your list of potential careers.
3. Sign Up for Internships — According to Gabriel Razo, the director of career planning and placement at Harold Washington College in Chicago, you should undertake at least one internship, since you won’t “truly know what type of work or atmosphere suits you until you do it.”
4. Consider Grad School — Obviously, getting an advanced degree amounts to a huge time and monetary commitment, but it can create opportunities that make it worth your while. If nothing else, you might want to take the GREs and/or GMATs. You’ll likely fare better on these tests right after college than you will later on, and the scores are often good for a few years.
5. See the World and/or Help People — When you’re not sure what to do, consider joining the Peace Corps or Teach for America or doing virtually anything that allows you to go abroad and provide community service.
6. Find a Job That Suits Your Skill Set — Think long and hard about what you’re really good at, and what makes you feel the most fulfilled. Ideally, you’ll choose a career that utilizes your unique skills and allows you to shine.
7. Make a 5-Year Plan — Forget all that stuff about 10-year plans. Who can think that far ahead? Cut that number in half and think about where you’d like to be in five years. It’ll probably take that long to reach middle management or start your own business, so it’s not such a bad timeframe to think about.