When I was four, I asked my mother to sign me up for princess lessons because my goal in life was to become a princess. I knew that you had to practice to be a professional so it only made sense that I start taking lessons. She told me they were full and signed me up for ballet instead because that seemed “close enough”. Unfortunately, I’m still not a princess (or a ballet dancer for that matter), but it does show that we are asked to think about our careers at a very young age.
Our entire lives, people ask us what we want to do and by the time we enter university that question is asked so frequently that we begin to panic when we don’t have the response. Can one really know what they want to do for the rest of their life at the age of 18 or 23? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way you will have to decide on a major, and a career field, and way to survive in the battlegrounds that is life outside of university. I can’t tell you what to do for the rest of your life because I’m not you. What I can tell you are three pieces of advice that helped me when I was searching for a job.
1. Your Career Is Not Linear
In the book Beach Music, Pat Conroy writes, “No story is a straight line. The geometry of human life is too imperfect and complex, too distorted by the laughter of time and bewildering intricacies of fate to admit the straight line into its system of laws.”
Your career is apart of your story and it will not be a linear process. You may major in computer science and end up being a TV personality (Jimmy Fallon) . Don’t stress out too much about finding that dream job after graduation because you probably won’t stay in that job for the rest of your life. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average people will have 10-15 jobs during their lifetime (and younger generations will have even more). Life is a series of trail and error, and your job is no exception.
2. Find Out What You Love
Are you passionate about anything? Is there something that you love doing? If so, then do that. Major in that and try to find jobs where you get to spend time doing what it is you love. It’s an amazing, and rare, gift to be truly enthused about something. If you don’t have any passions right now, that’s okay too. Find something you are interested in doing or look for jobs that compliment your natural strengths. If you have very strong social or political views, think about careers that will better society. Instead of thinking of your job in terms of what you love, think of it as a way for you to help make the world better.
3. Get Experience
Learn about every career that interests you. Speak with people you know that are in that industry and learn more about their daily tasks. You should complete at least one internship to get a real understanding of what a full-time job looks like. No matter what, learn how to make your passion into a viable job opportunity. The biggest myth about careers right now is that you have to follow the same path as everyone else to get to your end goal. How can that possibly be? Not all careers require the same amount of education or hands-on training. You are the not the same as everyone else. Learn what you need to do for you to be a happy, contributing member to society.
Most importantly, I encourage you to keep an open mind. Learn about yourself and set goals for what you want out of the future. Travel. Learn a language. Discover a new hobby. Read more books. Volunteer. Whatever it is that you decide to do, do it with dignity and never be afraid to question the norm along the way.