Do you want to be a scientist? A musician? Have you dreamed of studying history or would you rather create computer software? Many schools ask you to identify your preferred area of study when you apply. Most students change their major by the end of their sophomore year, but choosing a major or area of interest beforehand saves time and money in college.
Even if you do change your major, spending time before college to explore interests and careers can help you better know what direction to take. How can you decide?
- Separate your goals from other’s goals: Family and friends can suggest or get set on the perfect career for you. From your aunt’s suggestion to be a doctor to your best friend’s suggestion to be a radio announcer, remember these are suggestions.
You need to do what will work best for you. Some close family and friends can have good ideas but take the time to explore possibilities.
- Figure out what your interests are: Take a career test. Or take a personality test that helps you to understand your disposition. These online tests can reveal your personality so that you can then match that to a job that would develop into a passion.
- Look at future employment opportunities: Some areas of the job market experience shortages then an abundance of candidates. Other areas require specialized training or an advanced degree. Some careers experience huge growth while others decline.
If you want to find a job easily, you should select a major that is experiencing job growth. If you want to just pursue a particular interest, be prepared for actual employment possibilities.
- Income possibilities: When you invest money into your education, you hope to get money out. Your future career should be one that allows you to live comfortably. Check into expected incomes for various professions so that you can weigh that with the type of job you picture yourself doing after you graduate from college.
- Do something you are good at: After thinking about job growth and income possibilities, it is easy to think you should have a job that makes a lot of money. But high paying jobs often require time to get an advanced degree and work your way up the ladder.
Most people, once they get experience in their career, say job satisfaction is more important than salary. If you like doing something, you usually put more effort into it. So match your interest to your career rather than your wish for money to your career. And of course be willing to change course to find a life you will really enjoy.
How can you get to know what a future career will be like?
A job description or title may be very different from the actual job you do. Here are some great ways to explore what life after college may be like:
- Shadow or interview for careers: find out what someone in your desired area of study actually does. Many professionals welcome the opportunity to show what they do.
- Try summer activities: from camps, internships, to summer jobs, you can get work experience or an inside look at the working world.
- Go to college lectures and activities: visiting a college campus before applying can help you see what life on campus is like and what you find interesting.
- Talk with people: asking questions is a great way to learn about how people do what they do. Stay curious to allow yourself to try new things and find what really ignites your fire.