Choosing a career in the new economy
(ARA) - Whether heading into the work force for the first time or perhaps being shuffled around by the economy, employees and future employees are evaluating and re-evaluating their career paths.
For most, long gone are the days someone cupped a child’s chin in hand and asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
As children, the answers probably were a ballerina, fireman, basketball player, cowboy or movie star – based on the dreams and heroes admired up close and afar.
“Even as grownups, choosing a career is really an exciting topic, and yes, as we get older, sometimes the process can be a little bit more daunting,” says Danielle Grey, director of Career Services at South University in West Palm Beach, Fla. “When people come to talk to me about career planning, I begin with the hardest part – look inside yourself first. Discover who you are. Then, design what you can do, and what you cannot do, to be effective in the work world.”
Grey directs career seekers to start the evaluation process by making a list. Think of as many things as you can that make you happy and offer some fulfillment.
“The list should include the greatest details you can imagine. Search your heart deeply, and at the end, the list should look like you,” Grey insists. “Don’t dismiss something because you think it might be frivolous, but list everything that comes to mind, for example, from puppies to vacationing in Bermuda to playing soccer.”
As the list takes shape, can you draw connections between your personality and the items on the list? Ask yourself, realistically, why these particular things make you happy or create a sense of fulfillment. Then, ask yourself what things on your list can realistically be converted into a career and, inversely, what career path might bring you the same sense of happiness and fulfillment.
Designating the route
“It’s a good thing to remember, too, that a job is not the same thing as a career,” Grey says. “Many people have jobs, but no defined career.”
Once you’ve figured out a career that fits you, you will discover many jobs that can keep you headed in the right direction. Clearly, there will be jobs that won’t take you in the direction you want to go. It’s important to be aware of the difference, so when you take the next job, it is a job that leads toward your career goals.
You may be looking for any job to begin with, but by seeking employment that aligns with your skill set and ambitions you will create your career path. As a result, you'll likely be much happier in whatever work you find. As you compare your “list” to what jobs are available in your field, you will hopefully find out that even taking an entry-level position in the right field moves you successfully forward in your chosen career.
Pay attention to the road
Another good tactic for confirming career direction is to spend time with people who are already doing the jobs you see yourself doing someday. “When choosing a career, not only should you investigate the possibilities thoroughly, as they exist today, but also be prepared to adapt – as you change and as you see the industry you choose change,” Grey says. “Talking to people who work in a given field, about what they have seen change and about what they think will change, will give you invaluable information.
“Career choices seem a lot easier when we know where we are headed. It’s truly like being on a road trip. Pay attention to the road, and certainly, we stay inspired when we are looking for the next place we really want to be,” she says.
Talk it up and keep moving in the right direction
One last piece of advice for those who are seeking a career or perhaps a career change: once you’ve settled on a new direction, don’t be afraid to share your dream.
“We all function better with encouragement,” Grey says. “So it can be very helpful to let other people know where your heart has pointed you. Tell someone who you know will be an encouragement and who will also keep you accountable.”
Having someone to follow up with you can inspire you and help you stay headed in the right direction.
“Ultimately, we have to listen to our own hearts,” Grey says. “Friends and family can offer opinions about what we’re good at, or what we should be doing, but we have to remember that in order to be successful, our choices really do have to satisfy ourselves first.”
In that respect, career choices – both those you make when you are young and those career choices you make later in life – are personal and need to connect you to the things you both respect and love. For a look at some career ideas, visit www.southuniversity.edu.
Courtesy of ARAcontent