Here are more career-related tips — for all job-seekers making the journey of career self-discovery — gathered from numerous sources throughout Quintessential Careers and organized here for your convenience.
Think your mundane job could not become a career? Even the most basic of jobs have some degree of career paths/promotions. If you want to stay with your current employer but begin to pursue a promotion, you should read this article, Moving Up the Ladder: 10 Strategies for Getting Yourself Promoted. The article outlines key strategies to use as you begin to map your future.
Computer and high-tech careers are at the top of all the lists for the fastest-growing jobs in the U.S. This growth is predicted to last through this decade. Of the top job classifications, technology-related positions take three of the top six: Computer Scientists, Computer Engineers, and Systems Analysts, Computer Support Specialists, Database Administrators.
You can also find a list of the best computer-related job sites at Quintessential Careers: Technical and Computer Jobs.
If you’re a high-schooler feeling pressure because all your friends seem to know what they want to do with their lives, don’t feel rushed to find your “one right thing,” especially since that one right thing will probably change about five to seven times over the course of your life, according to most recent studies.
There are lots of ways of discovering what you’re good at. Sit down at your computer or with a piece of paper and make a list of things you like to do and things you do not like to do, then make a list of things you are good at. Then see if you can combine the things you like doing with the things you are good at, and then you can investigate careers that use those strengths and skills. You can also take some assessment tests. Many are available both on and off the Web. You can take a look at some of the better ones on the Web by visiting Quintessential Careers: Career Assessments.
Finally, while it may be a little early for you to start thinking about a major in college, you can use the same thought process for where you are now and read, Choosing a College Major: How to Chart Your Ideal Path.
Are you an athlete thinking about majoring in sport/exercise science or the allied health field? One of the biggest decisions college students make during the college careers is choosing a major. The sports and exercise science and allied health fields are among the fastest growing professions in the U.S., so majors in these fields have many options ahead. Steps to making a decision about this major include:
- Decide what you enjoy about being an athlete.
- Talk to your coach(es) about various career options for you.
- Contact some recent and not-so-recent alums who were athletes. You can probably get their names from your career placement center, your alumni office, or perhaps your coach, if he or she has been there a number of years.
From this combination self-analysis and networking, you’ll gain some direction to guide your research into various majors. Conduct this research by meeting with professors in the various departments housing those majors. For many more tips and advice on choosing a major, read Choosing a College Major: How to Chart Your Ideal Path.
Interested in a career in environmental science or studies? Go to the Career Exploration section of Quintessential Careers, where we have several resources, including our favorite “what can you do with a major in ‘?” Web sites. Here is just a partial list of careers for graduates in environmental studies: agricultural scientist or technician, conservation agent, environmental analyst or technician, EPA inspector, forester, laboratory analyst, naturalist, park ranger, planner (urban or regional), teacher, wildlife manager, and writer — as well as many other careers.
Another great site to go to is The Environmental Careers Organization, whose mission is (in part) “the promotion of environmental careers, and the inspiration of individual action. This is accomplished through internships, career advice, career products, and research and consulting.” One other good site is Environmental Jobs and Careers.
Finally, you can find a collection of environmental job and career sites in the Jobs in Agriculture, Zoology, and the Environment section of Quintessential Careers.
All sorts of personality and career-assessment tests — both on and off the Web — are available to help guide career decisions. But before you take any of the tests, though, sit down and make a list of the things you feel are your strongest qualities, such as hard-working, well-organized, creative, etc. Then think about the kinds of activities you enjoy doing the most, such as writing, designing, planning, etc. Once you have these two sets of information in front of you, then go to Quintessential Careers: Career Assessments and take one or more of the assessment tools. There are also non-Web-based tests and books on this subject, which can provide more information about the results of your tests.
When in doubt about prospects for any given career you’re considering, go search for information at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.
If you’re a college student or recent grad, your best bet is talking with your professors, recent alumni, the career placement office, and recruiters who come to your campus.
Finding an ideal career and job can be a job in itself. You can’t expect a career to find you. As you work to find your ideal career, keep in mind that current statistics show the average person changing careers about five times. Here’s how to begin the hard work of finding your ideal career:
- Make a list of the things that you do well and the things you enjoy doing.
- Take a few career-assessment tests. See Quintessential Careers: Career Assessments. Many of these tests will suggest a number of careers that take advantage of your skills and interests.
- With the information you have from the first two steps, visit a college university or community college to see if you can learn more about the education requirements for the types of careers that interest you.
- Consider volunteering, job-shadowing, or conducting informational interviews to learn more and see people working in the careers that interest you first-hand.
These steps take a lot of time and effort, but the end results should lead you to some exciting choices.
A psychology degree is great because it offers you a broad choice of opportunities, though those with a bachelor’s degree in psychology might also want to think about continuing your education by earning a master’s degree in psychology or a related field to keep your skills up up to date, increase your credentials, and make you more marketable.
Other careers you could pursue with a psychology degree include: school counselor, social worker, employment specialist, teacher, researcher, and many others.
Check out the links at Quintessential Careers: Career Exploration for some great resources for discovering more ideas and resources about careers in psychology — as well as many other careers.
If you’d like to do research in a career field you’re interested in, start by searching the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is a great source of information about careers, trends in those careers, and salary information.
Next, locate the professional association of your chosen field. Many libraries have a book in the reference area, the Encyclopedia of Associations, published by Gale Research, which lists associations. Or, you can check the Web. Go to General Professional Organizations and Associations. Or, try your favorite search engine; ours is currently Google.
Third, use your network of friends, colleagues, professors, family to find people currently working in the field. Set up interviews and discuss careers and salary with them. You can find out more about networking by visiting Quintessential Careers: The Art of Networking.
The process of finding your work and career passion is a journey, and for most people, not a short or easy one. It takes some effort to match up your talents, skills, and interests with one or more potential careers. Be prepared to commit a fair amount of time to the process.
A great place to start is our article, Choosing a College Major: How to Chart Your Ideal Path. This article takes you through the six steps necessary to make your journey to career self-discovery. It also includes some great resources, including other Web sites and some useful books.
Review some of the other articles we’ve published on Quintessential Careers, specifically in our Career Planning Articles section, which includes an article on completing a SWOT analysis (in which you will conduct an analysis of your strengths and weaknesses).
If you’re a young person just embarking on the process of choosing a career, don’t eliminate any possibilit es just yet. The key to a successful work life is finding employment that you love to do — not just a job tha pays well. Whatever fuels your passion will likely lead to a cho ce of jobs that offer a good salary wh le allowing you to work at something you enjoy. Do keep in mind, however, that your interests may change as you mature and continue your education.
Thinking of majoring in economics? Quite a few occupations are available to those with an economics degree, including economist, market analyst, claims adjuster, systems analyst, inventory control specialist, demographer, geographer, and many others.
For a great source of transferable skills, list of occupations, and other resources, visit the University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s What Can I do with a Major in…. Another great source of information to search is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Finally, see the Choosing a Major section of our tutorial on Job-Hunting on the Internet.
Are you cut out for a career in law? To find out, look at your personal network and see if you can meet with a corporate lawyer or two and conduct informational interviews with them. Solicit their advice about majors, minors, law school, and law careers. Seek a multidisciplinary education, focusing your studies in business, communications (oral and written), economics, math, and information technology. Students who are planning to attend law school to become corporate lawyers often major in business administration or accounting. The reason you want a well-rounded education is that there is much more to being an attorney than the law. You should choose courses that will help you develop proficiencies in writing and speaking, reading, researching, analyzing, and logical thinking. Start researching law schools — and once you develop such a list, go to each school’s Web site (or catalog) and see the courses they recommend to best prepare you for law school — and for a career in law.
Self-assessment and career exploration are constructive processes when you’re first starting to choose a college, a major, or a career, but don’t get too caught up in the process early on. So many students have changed their majors several times while at college — and most still find a way to graduate in the typical four years. The key is finding something you’ll like doing, using your strongest skills, and realizing that your career choice may certainly change or evolve over time.
Assessment tests can be helpful, but keep in mind that all these tests are simply instruments to give you a little more focus and direction. For example, we knew a student who took one of these tests, and the results said he should be a construction worker or firefighter, among other occupations. He got upset because he wondered why he was attending college if his “fate” was in of these two jobs. Of course, he was taking the results too literally. Thus, if you don’t like the results of one of these tests, simply ignore them and move on to the next one.
You can find more detail and links to some of the best tests by going to Quintessential Careers: Career Assessments.
Patrick Combs, author of Major in Success, offers this advice to college students: “Be aware, the most important homework you’ll ever do during college will never be assigned. Do the unassigned homework (Fully explained in my book or by any good career counselor).” In the Q&A interview he did with Quintessential Careers, Combs said, “Don’t make the single biggest mistake most students will make — don’t let your fears stop/kill you from going for that way cool, totally great, off the beaten path job that no one else has the guts to try for. Screw safety, screw what other people think, screw your major, screw money, and go for the job that, for you, would be sheer bliss.”
A number of free online personality- and career-focused tests are available to give you some career direction and focus. But be aware that these tests will not give you magic answers. The results may even raise more questions, but at least they will provide food for thought that you may not have had before. You can find what we consider the best free and inexpensive tests on the Web at Quintessential Careers: Career Assessment.
Interested in a career in politics? The best way to get involved is to join the staff of a local candidate or elected official, either as a volunteer (the easy way) or as a paid staffer. Once on board, you can learn the jobs and either move up the staff ladder or venture off on your own and run for elected office. Network with political science professors at your college or alumni who are elected officials or staff members. See if they have additional contacts with current office holders or candidates running for office. If you are open to relocation, you can go to the national political party of your choosing and get more information.
As the world continues to get smaller, there is a growing need for individuals who are fluent in languages other than English. Governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations all have needs for employees who can speak (and write) other languages. A good place for anyone looking for career information is our tutorial on Job-Hunting on the Internet.
Heard rumors about what the prospects are like in your intended career field? Rather than listening to rumors or opinions of other students, do some real investigating.
The best source? The faculty at your college or any college that has a department related to your field. Just because you are not a student there does not mean you can’t call, email, or set-up an appointment with a faculty member and discuss issues and concerns. You could also talk with the career resources office on campus and ask about the types and rates of job placement recent grads in your have had.
After that, there are some great sources on the Web. For example, you could search the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Finally, conduct informational interviews with those actually working in your intended profession to find out what the prospects are really like. Read about how to conduct these interviews in our Informational Interviewing Tutorial.
Numerous computer-science majors realize they don’t enjoy programming but are not aware of what other types of jobs they might pursue. Plenty of other computer and technology-related jobs that do not involved programming are available. Some job titles/areas include: technical support, network administration, Web development, database administration, customer/client support, information specialist, and trainers.
To get a better idea of what is out there for you, talk with your professors. Also go to one of the general job sites and conduct a search. Or, go to one of the technology-specific Web sites, such as IT Talent, and conduct a search.
Quintessential Careers offers a list of technology-specific job sites.
Review all our Quick and Quintessential Career & Job Tips.
Maximize your career and job-search knowledge and skills! Take advantage of The Quintessential Careers Content Index, which enables site visitors to locate articles, tutorials, quizzes, and worksheets in 35 career, college, job-search topic areas.