Choosing a career can be one of the most challenging aspects of preparing for college. Many students come to college without a clear idea of which career to pursue.
Even worse, many students leave college not knowing what career they want.
Whether you are getting ready for college or exploring your career options while in college, you can take several steps to make a great decision.
Get general information
First, get as much information as you can about your areas of interest. You can do this in several ways.
Talk to people already in their careers
For instance, if you’re interested in becoming an engineer, ask your friends if any of their parts work in that field.
If so, make arrangements to talk with them about how they became an engineer, what an engineer does from day to day, and what personal qualities engineers need to have. If you’re still interested in engineering, do some research.
Check the Occupational Outlook Handbook
You should also consult the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Department of Labor. Here you’ll learn:
- what different kinds of engineers do,
- what degrees engineers need, and
- what earnings an engineer can expect to make.
Learn more about yourself
Second, once you’ve researched different career options, consider taking a survey to narrow your options based on your natural aptitude.
One such survey is the Meyer’s Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). If the survey results show that you tend to be an introvert, you might decide that a career in sales isn’t right for you.
Another survey which can be useful is the Career Direct Assessment. This tool examines your personality, interests, skills, and values to connect you with potential career fields.
Regardless of the survey you take, you should always talk about the results with those who know you best.
Get up close and personal
After you’ve narrowed your options to just a few career fields, you may want to explore those interests further by volunteering your time or taking classes.
Given the expense of a college education, you might find that accepting a volunteer opportunity related to a career or interest pays off.
For instance, if you volunteer in a hospital helping nurses you may learn that you really don’t want to become a nurse. By volunteering and learning from that experience, you’ve potentially saved hundreds of dollars in tuition and fees.
On the other hand, volunteer opportunities don’t exist in many fields. If this is the case, you may need to take elective courses in a few potential career fields before choosing a degree. Exploring interests early in your college career could introduce you to just the right occupation!
Lastly, throughout the process of choosing a career, you should “tap your sources” for advice and direction.
For instance, ask your friends about your interests: “Do you think computer programming is the right career for me?”
You should also share your thoughts with your parents and teachers: “Given what you know of me, would you agree that a career in counseling would be a good fit?”
Finally, throughout the process, you should also pray for guidance. As your creator, God has gifted you with a unique combination of skills and aptitudes. He will provide you guidance step-by-step–if you’re willing to follow Him.
Having been born abroad and raised in different cultures, Lyle Witt has enjoyed spending much of his career supporting international students. After earning a M.A. in Education from a state university, Lyle taught international students in college prep programs at a community college and university before joining the faculty at a regionally accredited college, where he serves as a division chair and assistant professor.
When he can, Lyle spends time reading, gardening, and disc golfing. He also enjoys camping, hiking, and mountain biking. While not teaching, he finds it a refreshing change to work with his hands, building decks, repairing houses, and fixing things.
Lyle is blessed to be a husband, father of two sons and two daughters, and a follower of Christ.