Many people struggle for years to find the right career path for them. They either don’t know what they’re good at, have interests that are too broad, or just don’t have enough life experience to draw from. Whatever your dilemma, it’s important to not let your indecision paralyze you or prevent you from getting some type of education. Just start somewhere, and if you change your mind halfway through, that’s OK too. In fact, it is estimated that a whopping 75 percent of all students change their majors at least one time before they graduate from college. This means that most people don’t know what they want to do with their lives in the beginning. But the good news is that there are a few good ways to get career ideas to inspire you to forge a path.
Talk to your counselor
Many students don’t use the career counseling services available to them. But every high school and institution of higher learning has at least one counselor or adviser. These counselors have access to career resources you may not have. One of those resources is a variety of reputable aptitude tests that can help you decide what you’re good at. But before you go to a career counselor, you can start with some decent career assessment tests online. Your counselors can also direct you to information about various careers you can pursue. And they may even be able to connect you with local business people who can give you advice. Figuring out what you’re good at and what you enjoy is an important aspect of choosing a major or profession. According to psychologists, finding “meaningful work is good for the worker and for the company” who hires him or her.
If you’ve decided on a college, but not yet a major, the college catalog is a great place to start. From there, you can search for particular careers online to find out what they entail and you can speak to your advisor about those jobs and specific requirements. But if you haven’t decided on a college, you can search for particular careers and the places that offer those degrees. You may find that accredited liberal arts degree programs are what you wish to look for if you’ve narrowed your choices down to English literature or sociology.
Go to career fairs
Almost every college and a lot of communities host career fairs, job fairs, or career expos, once a year. Employers use them to recruit potential candidates and students, and job seekers use them to find out who is hiring. These are great places to get career ideas if you take the time to go to as many tables as you can. Ask lots of questions about what types of jobs they have, salaries, and how often they hire. Also, ask about education requirements for anything that interests you. Not all careers require degrees. Some careers will only require specialized training. Some financial careers, for example, might just require something like all lines adjuster prelicensing training. Or they may require extra training on top of college degrees that you never realized. For example, an ultrasound technician is technically only required to attend a nine-month training program. However, they are also required to have a degree in radiologic technology before they can be admitted.
Even if you’re not interested in a particular company, you can still get some major insight just by hanging out. They usually offer brochures about different careers with their companies as well. Start a collection so you’ll have something to reference when making the decision. If you live in a small town, consider attending a career fair in a larger city. Your small town may have a job fair, but the ones in the bigger cities will likely offer far more options.
Search job sites
You don’t have to know what you’re looking for to peruse job sites like Indeed or Monster. Check out all the job openings available right now. You can check these daily and start to compile a list of anything that sounds interesting or like it might be something you’re good at. Do your research on each of the job openings and answer a few important questions. Do they require degrees? How much do they pay? What are the hours like? Are they entry level jobs? You can also contact the companies that post the positions. For example, did you see a job opening for a salesman at an award winning VW dealership? Do a little research on their company to see what other people say about working there. Sites like Glassdoor offer company reviews as well as average pay posted by employees. And maybe even stop in for an application and ask the receptionist a few questions. Finding out as much as you can about the jobs that interest you might help you narrow down your choices.
Tap into your network
Your family and circle of friends are good resources when you’re trying to find a job idea. You probably already know what most of them do for a living, but you can invite them to lunch and pick their brains about the specifics. And since they’re probably the people who know you best, ask them what job they can see you being good at and enjoying. They might come up with something you’d never thought of that fits your personality and skills perfectly. Also, be sure to ask them what their close friends and family members’ jobs are. You’ll probably be able to add a few ideas to your list and maybe even be able to talk to some of them as well. Once you’ve found a few more ideas, start again with your research. If a job requires an education, find out where the best programs are. If you think you might be interested in something like becoming an X-ray technician in New Jersey, for example, check into Belleville, NJ Allied Health Programs or in whatever town you think you’d like to attend school.
Aside from connecting with the people closest to you, consider branching out to your connections on social media. LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool for businesspeople. But if you haven’t even settled on what business you’d like to be in, you may want to start more simply. Try reaching out to some of your Facebook friends to find out what they’re doing. People love to give information, so why not post a status that asks for comments on job titles? Or can you ask them to tell you three things they love about their job and why? Tapping into your network can also often open the door to job leads or offers you might never have considered otherwise.
Finding the right career is sometimes more of a journey than a one-time decision for a lot of people. In fact, according to CNN Business, the new normal for most people is to change jobs four times before they turn 32. Sometimes they do this to advance within their career field, but other times, they are actually changing their careers entirely. What this means for you is that you’re not bound by the degree you choose. So, instead of letting your indecision paralyze you with fear, just get started. If you feel you are in the wrong field, you can always change majors or professions when you learn more about yourself.