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Choosing a career can be an extremely daunting task. Even while you’re in enrolled in classes and selected a major, you get asked the inevitable question, “what type of job do you want?” I’ve felt this pressure from the beginning, and while I think I have my future planned out, I know there is much uncertainty ahead.
The path to selecting a career is different for everyone, but I think you can boil it down to a few steps. First you should find what types of industries or sectors you are passionate about. Second, do some research and see what companies are out there. Finally, try to meet or connect with people in the industry and find out if it could fit with your personality. It isn’t a perfected method, but gives you a place to start.
As you attempt to narrow down what types of industries you could work in, try seeing what interests you first. What types of news stories do you gravitate to? Do you spend a lot of time thinking about a certain topic? Maybe you’re the type of person that loves to travel and could work for an airline, tourism company or in hospitality. Or you’re always drawn to talking about money and you could see yourself working in the financial sector. If the idea of politics makes your head spin, avoid going in that route. In the end, you want to find yourself in an industry that you would want to invest your time into.
Researching Organizations You Don’t Already Know About
Once you’ve narrowed down some industry options, you should sit down at your computer and research what companies are out there. Knowing who the industry leaders are and the direction these companies are going can give you a forecast into what the future could be like. It’s also important that you search for smaller or growing companies that you maybe haven’t heard of. The likelihood of getting hired by Google, Nike, Coca-Cola or the White House directly out of college is slim. Find opportunities that could help you grow, develop experience and perhaps a place where you could even rise the ranks.
While recently searching for internships, I was surprised to find hundreds of companies with entry-level positions that I could apply for. While some had names of high esteem, many were less-known with solid opportunities. If you’re not sure what the culture of a company is like, check the website, social media channels and reviews to see if it could be the right place for you.
Finding and Building Connections
This is the hardest step to conceive, but it may be simpler than you think. Start asking friends or colleagues who they might know in your chosen industry. Maybe someone’s cousin works in agriculture or father is a university administrator. You will be surprised to find many people in your own network that has a connection to where you want to go. Beyond that, look for connections in community or church groups. You could also look on LinkedIn to find people that could help you where you want to go, but tread lightly. No one needs a stalker in their life and it’s best to find a personal connection first. Perhaps looks for someone with mutual connections or an alum of your school.
From first interaction, cultivating a relationship can be difficult. One strategy that I will swear by is informational interviews. Just sitting down and talking to someone in a professional, yet candid environment can be a good way to see if that’s the direction you want to go. In an article posted on Monster.com, the author shared some suggestions from career advancement coach Lauren Milligan. She said, “Better than any assessment or app, sitting down with someone, looking them in the eye, asking them questions and getting honest feedback is the best way to not only get your career questions answered, but is also a great way to build a team of career advocates,” she says. “When someone gives you their time, they become invested in your success.”
The best time to start researching career opportunities is today. While the current trends seem to indicate that many of us will change careers multiple times, it is important to know what we are passionate about. Much of our adult like is spent at work and can you imagine walking in those doors every day without any interest in those meetings and conversations? Take some time to figure out what interests you and do your research.
What industries interest you? Share your top three picks below!