Discovering your career

What Career is Right for Me? A Pocket-Sized Guide to Making Your First Big Career Decision

An introspective approach to finding the right career.

Choosing a career is a lot like buying your first new car: it’s a significant investment requiring time, money, and extensive research to determine the best fit. Choose wisely, and you’re in for the long haul in a mutually beneficial relationship that will last for years.

The difference between the right car and the right career? The right career choice can last you until retirement!

Here are a few guidelines you can follow to ensure you’re picking the right car… er, career!

Find out what motivates you

We’re not talking about money, though that’s usually a common answer. Money is commonly referred to as an “extrinsic motivator.” In other words, you enjoy the outcome of something you do. 

We’re referring to intrinsic motivators: the things that motivate us without need of an external stimulus. It’s the enjoyment that comes from within from mastering a new instrument, belonging with the friends and family that surround you, and accomplishing a lifelong goal. According to experts, intrinsic motivation is a significant factor in overall job satisfaction. 

Start by making a list of the things that give you personal meaning and enjoyment.

Know Yourself

Think about the type of workplace that would make you happy. Do you thrive on tight deadlines or would you rather a flexible schedule? Do you want to work in an office or as part of a team? What industry are you considering?

Also think about how your career choice might align with your interests, skills, and values. Are you comfortable pursuing a career that requires calculus daily? Will you only feel fulfillment helping others in a legal setting?

These are all valid questions which you may not have answers to yet, and that’s okay.

Start by visiting your campus’s career services center. They may have a few resources available to you including, but not limited to, seminars, shadowing opportunities, and personality and strengths assessments. While you’re there, you may want to also ask about career advising appointments… just make sure you ask these questions.

Build on your strengths

While it’s fulfilling to expand your skill set, it’s often in your best interest to build on what you know — honing in on what makes you great! Of course, learn other things you might love, but don’t neglect continued education in your chosen field if given the opportunity.

Define your career path and goals

You want to have a full visual of what your career might look like:

  • Years spent in school
  • Potential internships
  • Your first job
  • Average time to reach desired position

These are just a few examples to get you thinking about your career path. We cover the process in depth here

Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals for yourself once you have a solid visual or plan so you can meet your milestones in a timely manner.

We’ve got you covered!

Be opportunistic

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2016 – 26 employment projections, careers in the healthcare industry are expected to account for a large share of the labor market due to an aging population’s demand for healthcare. While you don’t have to pursue a career in this industry, seeking a good career with expected growth is a smart idea. 

Start the Job Search

From paid internships to no-experience-required entry level jobs, Handshake has lots of opportunities that are right for you. Make sure to include as much information pertinent to your interests when setting up your profile. That way, you won’t be alone in the search process — we’ll also send you our best recommendations!