College students are under a lot of pressure. There's pressure to do well academically, to network with peers, and to hold down a job with very little time to master it all. There's also the pressure of choosing a career while attending expensive universities and not wasting any of the precious time, resources, and opportunities available. If you're a college student struggling to choose a career path, you're not alone, and you can make the process a little easier by considering the following questions.
What Are You Good At?
If you're good at something, doing it all day every day is going to be considerably easier than trying to do something you're not good at. This can be something specific, like math or woodworking, that translates into specific careers, but it can also be things like leading a group project or delivering speeches well. These are skills that are valuable no matter where you go. They can still help you decide on a career path, but it's a good idea to identify them ahead of time. Keep in mind that not everyone particularly likes doing the things they are good at, and the distinction is crucial. Do not feel pressured to pursue something you don't like simply because it's easy for you.
What Do You Like Doing?
If you're going to take out student loans to attend classes, you might as well enjoy what you're doing. Some people know exactly what they were meant to do and are ready to pursue it, but others have no idea what they like doing, let alone what their destined career path is supposed to look like. It's also important to note that you don't have to turn every interest into a career. It is perfectly valid to pursue a career you don't hate that can fund your ability to enjoy your passions in your personal time. Instead, it may be helpful to consider the things you enjoy doing as a guidepost for discovering a job you'll like.
Have You Fully Explored Your Options?
Some students go to college having determined a major without understanding all the majors available to them. There's no shame in waiting to declare a major and exploring your options through electives. There are so many fun and unexpected college courses available that you're likely to surprise yourself with your new interests. Plus, you could start taking main courses for your pre-selected major only to discover that it doesn't interest you as much as you thought.
What Are Your Biggest Goals for Your Future?
Your future goals should be a big consideration when choosing a career path. While some careers have a handful of people that become massively successful, it's important to consider average salaries for the positions within your chosen field. If a big goal of yours is to live a slightly more luxurious lifestyle, you should consider careers that will allow you to achieve that. If you want to pursue a career in art, for example, you should think about the different art sectors and which ones are more likely to pay you the salary that you need. If money isn't important to you, your career options will expand a bit.
Have I Learned Valuable Skills?
If you're still having trouble deciding, never fear. This isn't a decision you should make quickly, and many people successfully change careers multiple times. To give yourself the best chance of success, dedicate time to developing skills that are valued across industries and easily transferable. Effective leadership, communication, networking, negotiation, and management skills are all highly valuable wherever you go. Elective classes are great for building those skills, and they often give you an opportunity to practice.
Choosing a career path is a big decision for everyone, but it doesn't have to be anxiety-inducing. When you take the time to get to know yourself and your goals, you're bound to make a decision that serves your needs now and well into the future.
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