By senior year, it might feel as though most of your friends have chosen a career path. Everyone is planning for college, they’ve chosen a major, and now it’s just a waiting game to get life started.
And then… There’s you. You aren’t actually sure of your intended career path, or you haven’t chosen one at all. Don’t you have to make this decision now? And how can you go to college unless you know what you want to do for the rest of your life?
First of all, relax. No, not everyone has it all figured out by age 18. Of those that do, plenty of them end up changing their minds later anyway. So try to blow off the stress, and follow these five steps to start narrowing your options.
Interview other adults. Ask your parents, their friends, your aunts and uncles, and your neighbors: How did you choose your career path? Do you like it? What would you do differently? You might notice that many adults have shifted their original plans at least once, if not several times!
Get a part-time job, internship, or volunteer gig. The best way to learn about a particular job is to work alongside people in that career field. No, you can’t just head off to the hospital and start moonlighting as a surgeon, but you can volunteer and get a feel for hospitals. Hint: This will help you meet professionals and then interview them.
Travel. Head out over winter or spring break, and explore a new place. Discover your interests and meet new people. When we’re out of our comfort zones, we learn a lot about ourselves.
Be honest with yourself. Are you considering a career because it truly interests you, or because it pleases your parents or impresses your friends? In the long run, we’re rarely happy with the decisions we make based on other people’s feelings.
Head off to college and let the future work itself out. There’s no rule that says you need to choose a major before freshman year. In fact, so many people change their major at least once, that this isn’t a decision you should consider permanent. Enroll in your core classes, and consider a few electives in fields that interest you. Sign up for plenty of extracurricular activities, too. The right career path will develop as you continue to explore your options.