Choosing a Career

Choosing a career can be an intimidating process. For one thing, when you're called upon to choose, you really haven't done much and have little experience. How are you supposed to know which career path will provide a lifetime's worth of satisfaction. I often can't even decide if I should wear stripes with plaids. What's that? Oh, I see...I kind of thought so.

Let's take a moment to review general ideas that will most likely play a role in choosing a career.

SKILLS. What skills do you have? Chances are you thought about this when choosing a major. You're good at puzzles and excited by technology so you chose to study software engineering, that sort of thing. Now it's time to do that same sort of analysis only with a career in mind instead of a major.

Remember that a specific major doesn't necessarily lock you into a particular career. Just because you went to law school doesn't mean that you have to become a lawyer. There are plenty of other options, some of which may suit you better.   

INTERESTS. What are you interested in? What makes your mind stand up and go hmmmm. This also is most likely something you thought about when choosing a major. As you advance through your studies you'll encounter new topics, subjects, fields of study – things you didn't even know existed. Each new discovery can be rife with career possibilities. Explore, research and network.

Say you're a liberal arts major satisfying a science requirement by taking a course in brain behavior and you discover that the myriad mysteries of the human brain are fascinating. What career options lie at the intersection of the sciences and the humanities? Technical writing or editing, research, field work. Use the Internet and talk to your professors and other professionals.

EXPECTATIONS. When it comes to expectations you'll need to ask yourself what sort of occupational dynamic will suit your personality and your career objectives. Do you enjoy being in the public eye or are you more of a behind-the-scenes type? Do you want to work for a large corporation or would you prefer a small non-profit?

What about geography? If you're an avid surfer will you be miserable in a land-locked city? Would you be more happy in a big city or a small town? Here again, research and explore. Your options are varied and the Internet is a great tool for this sort of thing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( can be a particularly good source of regional and national vocation information.

Also, keep in mind that in today's fast-paced job market you don't need to stay with one company your whole career, working your way up from mail room to executive. Instead, you'll most likely be jumping around quite a bit. Stay focused on your goals while keeping an open mind and you will be sure to succeed.