Choosing a Career Path

Setting aside the pre-existing stress placed on high school and university students already including financial strains, schedules, time management and academic success, perhaps the most strenuous of all is the pressure of choosing a career path. Even if a university major has been chosen, still there is a wide range of possible careers for each specialization. With this being said, all students are met with the same stress of pinpointing their desired career path and being confident with their decision. In this article, hopefully I can offer some comfort and guidance through some tips when considering your career options to help you build the future you want!

Prioritize Passion Over Salary

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

To ensure your happiness in any career, it is important to value your passion for your work more than the paycheck that comes with it. It is easy for us to be attracted to high-paying jobs, however since a full-time job will engulf much of your time as an adult, it’s important to choose a career you feel passionate about and are happy with. Feeling fulfilled and satisfied with the work you are doing will always be more valuable than the money associated with it — and thus, must be your focus when choosing a career. Follow your heart, not the dollar signs!

money money unsplash Choosing a Passion: A Career is Not Forever

Expanding on my previous point, an important struggle to address is choosing a passion. Most individuals find themselves enjoying more than one field of work or education, which then leads to the question of: which should I follow career-wise? This may cause some frustration, as you may feel like you are limiting yourself and not expressing yourself to the fullest extent by only choosing one passion to pursue. However, I’m here to tell you that this does not have to be the case.

Research shows that it is quite common for individuals to switch career paths multiple times within their lifetime meaning that over time you can express your passions for various fields of work. Another option is taking on a side-job or hobby while pursuing a different career path to truly satisfy two contrasting passions. Although you may feel that doors are closing on you, remember that they don’t lock and some never close at all. So perhaps most important of all, I am here to reveal the myth of the permanence of your career. Its duration is entirely up to you; that power is in your hands. A cause behind many teens’ stresses could be the idea that their decisions about their careers cannot be shifted or undone, but in reality, this could not be further from the truth. So don’t allow yourself to be scared of the future. Instead, become empowered by its endless opportunities for fulfillment, satisfaction and development.

high-angle photo of people seated in a lecture hall Mikael Kristenson/Unsplash Experimentation Through Volunteering

A perfect way to experiment with different fields is through first-hand experience. By taking advantage of volunteer positions, you can truly begin to unveil your passion for a career or lack thereof. As an added bonus, these volunteer positions are excellent at creating future career opportunities, as it can be included in your resume and your supervisors can be used as references. 

I have an extraordinary passion for animals, hence why I began volunteering at a local animal shelter, which eventually led to me becoming employed there. Not only do volunteer experiences open up possible career opportunities (both directly and indirectly through resume experience), but they also help you further narrow your search for a perfect career. Although I love my volunteer and career work at the animal shelter, I also volunteered at a vet clinic and did not enjoy it at all. This just goes to show how putting yourself out there through these experiences help you gain first-hand knowledge into what type of careers you may enjoy — and even open up some doors to pursue that career, as it did for me.

Volunteering help Photo by Joel Muniz from Unsplash Are You a Good Fit?: Personality and Characteristics

Although a career may check all of the boxes as discussed so far, another important factor to consider is whether your personality and characteristics would be a good fit for a certain career. For example, if you struggle with confrontation and communication skills, a job that is heavily reliant on customer service may not be a good fit for you. Or imagine someone becoming a firefighter who is like a deer in headlights when faced with a building on fire. With this in mind, it is crucial to ensure that a job is a good match with your personality and characteristics, and your overall strengths and weaknesses. 

Tip: If you are unsure whether you would be a good fit for a job, there are various career quizzes to take online that take into consideration your personality and traits and recommend careers that would be a good match!

Considering Other Factors

To further aid in choosing the right career, it’s important to consider many external factors that play a role in your day-to-day life that are affected by the career you choose. One significant aspect to consider is its hours and how this impacts your health and your family life. Some jobs require long hours or early morning/late night shifts. If you are someone who needs a consistent sleep schedule and needs to be well-rested, these jobs may not be a good fit. Additionally, depending on the hours of a job, it could impact your family life including limited time spent with your family and difficulty juggling family and career commitments. Another factor to consider is whether your chosen career is in high demand and its range of open positions. Depending on the field, it may be quite difficult to not only find openings but also compete for a job when going up against many other candidates that may have more experience (this may especially be the case when you first graduate from university). 

Tip: Try to gain further job-related experience through extra-curricular participation within your university, such as clubs or other organizations. For example, someone interested in a psychology-related career may want to look into becoming a student counselor or mentor.

Choosing a career path is a critical process in building your future and ensuring happiness and self-fulfillment. There are endless possibilities out there, and countless passions and interests that can be pursued. Instead of experiencing stress over your control of this, hopefully, this article allows for comfort in your potential and capability. Follow your heart and watch yourself flourish — your future self will thank you for it!