If you’re around 15 to 18 years old, and considering your life after high school, you will probably start to notice something: Every decision leads to another decision, which leads to the rest of your life! Don’t let this stress you out; rather, try to view this series of opportunities as a “choose your own adventure” book or video game.
Right now, you’re probably thinking about colleges, majors, and of course, the career that will eventually result from those choices. It’s a good idea to keep your intended career path in the back of your mind as you decide upon a school or field of study. So, use these six tips for choosing a career as you proceed with making those big decisions.
Do something you love. To be sure, sometimes we love things that don’t exactly lead to a viable career (we can’t all be video game testers, or professional cupcake eaters). But if you choose a field that interest and excites you, you’re more far more likely to end up in a job that you truly enjoy each day (or, at least, most days).
Stay grounded in reality. There’s nothing wrong with following an intense passion, but do your research first. Make sure there are at least some jobs in the field. Narrow job fields aren’t necessarily a bad thing, if you’re one of the best out there. On the other hand, you might want to make sure your chosen job path will at least cover the bills.
Look at the future with a wide-angle lens. Choosing a career path isn’t all about the job you’ll be doing, or even the pay and benefit you will earn. Consider, also, where you want to live (some careers are fairly location-specific), whether you desire to get married and have a family (some people don’t, and that’s okay), and how much “down time” you hope to have (for travel, hobbies, and so on).
Diversify your skills. These days, most workers aren’t sticking with the same job for 30 to 40 years, and then retiring. You will probably move through several phases in your career, so choose a path that demands a diverse skill set. Then, remember to master those skills!
Leave time for you. Continue to develop yourself outside of your major field of study. You never know when the people you meet will become important work connections, or the hobbies and skills you develop will come in handy for pursuing a new direction.
Stay flexible. It’s possible that you will land your dream job, and then decide it’s just not for you. If you’ve diversified your skills, chosen a wide career path, and developed yourself personally as well as professionally, a change won’t feel so frightening or difficult.
And of course, as you’re choosing a career, remember to talk to your parents, guidance counselor, and faculty at your chosen college. Mentors can help you ask yourself the most important questions, and guide you as you make these choices.