Remember when you were a kid and everyone would ask you, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" It's interesting that in Western society we usually stop asking that question of our children after age ten. So our last response was usually in the doctor/lawyer/President-of-the-U.S. category. For many, the subject of career selection does not arise again until college graduation (and an uncertain future thereafter) is staring them in the face.
Spend the time necessary to analyze both yourself and the job market. In analyzing yourself, consider using a combination of assessment instruments (such as interest, personality, aptitude and value inventories) and career counseling, both of which will likely be available to you for free (or at a minimal cost) at your campus Career Center. The specific assessments you should consider taking include the following:
- Personality: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and others; analyzes your personality type and compares it with various careers.
- Aptitude: Structure of Intellect (SOI) and others; analyzes your aptitude for particular careers.
- Interest: Strong Interest Inventory (SII) and others; analyzes your personal interests and how they correlate with those of others who have been successful in a variety of careers.
- Values: System of Interactive Guidance and Information (SIGI) and others; examines your value system and how the priority of your values may work with (or against) you in a variety of careers.
In taking these assessments, you will see a pattern of potential career paths emerging, although it is unlikely there will be a single career recommendation. Combine your assessment results with career counseling and career exploration to assist you in deciding on career paths to pursue. The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), updated biennially by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, provides information on more than three hundred occupations, including hiring trends, type of work, training requirements, typical earnings, and future job outlook. You can access the enhanced OOH information online at CollegeGrad.com/careers.
It is vitally important to know what job you are seeking before you go out and try to find it. In seeking the right job, seek out a job you will love. There are far too many people in today's work world who are grinding away at work they detest just to earn a paycheck—and leading lives of quiet desperation in return. Do what you love and the money will follow. And if the simple satisfaction of a good day at work is not a strong enough argument for you, consider the longevity factor: a Duke University study of human longevity listed work satisfaction as having a high correlation with long life. Live long and prosper.