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How to Choose a Career

How to Choose a Career

Most people have a level of uncertainty on where to get help in how to choose a career and career guidance.  There are 3 basic steps that a person can take to help them with the question of How to Choose a Career. Listed below are several suggestions to help you choose a career. These steps are especially helpful for students as they develop a career plan.


Step One

Figure out where your career interests are by asking yourself:
  • Where do my interests lie?
  • What do I do well and enjoy?
  • What kind of personality do I have?
  • What's really important to me?
  • What are my values?

Take a career-related test to help you figure out how to choose a career. Draw on your own life experiences on jobs, classes or other opportunities that you may have particularly enjoyed. Remember, this is very personal and is all about you! Choosing a career can be very satisfying with the right help.


Step Two

Learn about your career options. Rarely do you have the opportunity to take a college class that shows you how the work world actually exists.  You have to take the initiative to explore it yourself.  See if your college's career office has a library of books describing different kinds of work, the typical qualifications needed, and the salary ranges for various occupations. Your college's career counselors should be able to help. Also, talk to people through informational interviews, and try out careers by shadowing and taking internships or part-time jobs. The more career planning that you can do as a student, the better prepared you will be when you start to look for your first job.

Step Three
A third part of how to choose a career is to sort out your priorities for a career. After you've spent time on steps one and two, some of your strong preferences may start to emerge. You might learn you don't want to be in an office environment. Or you might find that your interest in art wouldn't sustain a career, so you cross those types of jobs off your list. Whatever it is that you learn about yourself, you're making important discoveries that will help you choose a good career when the time comes. This is a major component of career planning for students.
Most importantly, keep it all in perspective: You don't have to live forever with any career decision you make in these phases of student career planning. Most people change careers several times during their lives, so the first job you choose right after college probably won't be your career 15 or 20 years from now -- unless you want it to be. So don't put too much pressure on yourself to make the perfect decision, and always keep your eyes open, and use all available resources in your journey to find how to choose a career.

by Gary Anderson
former college Career Center Director and high school career choice advisor