What do you want to be when you grow up? Every child is asked that question at least once, but when you reach the college years, and even beyond, it’s time to make an actual choice instead of just sharing a dream. We can’t all be ballerinas and firefighters, so there are some important things to consider when choosing a career path.
Tailoring your career to your personal interests is important if you want to work at something that is fulfilling and inspiring. If you love books, for example, and need to express your creativity through words and language, a career as an accountant is probably not going to inspire you to get out of bed in every morning. Likewise, if you are a linear thinker who likes to work within concrete and specific principles, working in a creative field like advertising may only serve to frustrate you. While you may not always be able to support yourself with your true passion, it’s important to find a career that will suit your natural tendencies and interests.
While tailoring your career to your interests is important, you also need to keep your abilities, and how much you are willing to learn, in mind when choosing a career. For example, if you faint at the sight of blood, becoming a doctor may not be the best choice for you. If you’ve never enjoyed math, and struggle with even basic calculations, a career in accounting or finance may only serve to frustrate you, no matter how much you study and how much money you make. Choose a career that fits your personality and skills to ensure that you enjoy your career. If you’re not sure what career is suitable for your personality traits, take a career assessment test or meet with a career counselor to explore your options.
Allow your values to guide you in your career choices. Where you want to live, how much time you want to have for family and leisure pursuits and what you believe to be your life’s purpose can all influence your career path. Only you can decide if you want to work 80-hour weeks in a busy city office, or if you are better suited for a slower pace in a smaller city or suburban environment. In today’s hi-tech environment, it’s becoming easier than ever to create your own ideal work situation, so keep that flexibility in mind when your choosing your career.
It’s a fact of modern life that adults need to earn money in order to eat, keep a roof over their heads and pay bills. While passion and interests are important for choosing a career, so is the ability to earn a living. For example, many writers and artists work in jobs that they merely tolerate in order to pursue their true passions and goals. When you choose a career path, it’s important to take an honest look at your earning potential, not just at entry level, but over the long term. In some careers, earning potential is unlimited, while in others, even after many years of experience and accomplishment, there is a ceiling on earning potential. Only you can decide what your priorities are, and how much you are want to earn over the course of your career.
An adjunct instructor at Central Maine Community College, Kristen Hamlin is also a freelance writer on topics including lifestyle, education, and business. She is the author of Graduate! Everything You Need to Succeed After College (Capital Books), and her work has appeared in Lewiston Auburn Magazine, Young Money, USA Today and a variety of online outlets. She has a B.A. in Communication from Stonehill College, and a Master of Liberal Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.