Guiding a Son Who’s In Turmoil about Career

Pam writes:
My son turned 21 in October. He is in turmoil regarding a career. How do you guide
a young man in a career path when he is not sure where he would like to go?

The Career Doctor responds:
Yours is a universal question whether asked by a teenager job-seekers
in mid-career crisis or a concerned parent.
The first thing to remember going into any kind of exercise of career exploration is that it may take years and years before you discover your
true passion. I don’t mean that statement to depress you but rather to
free you from the pressures of wracking your brain and feeling a failure if
you cannot discover your ideal career after one of these exercises. Some
people are lucky enough to find their career passions early but for others
they are now just discovering them in midlife.
That said the more of these types of exercises you do and the more job
experiences you have the more likely you will find your way to your ideal
career (or careers). For example while I have always had a love of
marketing and knew I was going to have a career in marketing I never
would have guessed at age 21 that I would be a marketing professor or
own my own business.
So for everyone struggling with finding a new career in the new year
here are my tips:

  1. Set aside a day for this exercise. Turn off the cell phone find a
    quiet place somewhere and really be committed to learning more
    about yourself.
  2. Do some self-assessment. Examine all the “stuff” you have done
    in your life thus far (work volunteering hobbies education etc.) and
    make a list of the activities that you absolutely love. (You should also
    make a list of stuff you never want to do again.)
  3. Take some tests. I kind of consider this step optional but I have
    a lot of clients and students who absolutely love taking a few assessment
    tests because they really feel they learn more about themselves so do
    so if you think it will help you too.
  4. Research careers that involve the activities you love. For this step
    you may need access to the Internet career books and people. You may
    even want to plan several informational interviews with people in a number
    of different careers to get more information about the details of their jobs.
    This step obviously may take you weeks to complete so don’t rush
    the process.
  5. Develop a plan for moving into the new career choice. Once you have
    found a career for you your final step is developing a plan for transitioning
    into the field. This plan may involve internships volunteering temping and
    more education.

For more assistance please use the
Career Exploration
Tools and Resources
section of Quintessential Careers.


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