By Sara Juarez
Many of us have been, or are at a point now in our life, where we are overwhelmed with feelings of confusion and uncertainty. It feels as though people are declaring majors left and right, yet you are sitting there, soaking in a big clouded puddle of indecisiveness.
The thing is, you are not exactly sure what you want to do for the rest of your life. You have your family pulling you one direction, and your friends pulling you in another.
There are people telling you what you should do, and where you should be. So, what are you supposed to do?
And, as if the confusion wasn’t enough, there is also that dreadful feeling in the pit of your stomach. It all makes you feel as though your entire life depends on this single, seemingly permanent choice of what career path to take. Well, I am here to help ease a few of your worries.
First of all, you should take a deep breath and just relax. You are not the only one dealing with this stressful situation. There are many students that are undecided in college today, myself included. In thinking about my major, I have also been all over the spectrum.
I have considered a myriad of studies, such as theatre, film, art, photography, journalism, music, teaching, psychology, and even criminal justice.
In my quest to make a choice, I have found a few tips and techniques to be quite helpful. Now, I am not a career counseling expert, but I am simply offering advice on strategies that have worked for me thus far:
If you have not the slightest idea of any career or study you would like to pursue, the first and probably best thing you can do is to get involved in your community and your school. Explore a wide range of interests and activities. Find out what you really enjoy doing.
When trying something new, like joining a club, sport, or volunteering, you get a sense of what you specifically like, or dislike. You might even discover a talent or skill you didn’t know you possessed. For example, I have volunteered numerous times, and realized my love for a sense of community.
More importantly, I realized how much I enjoy making someone’s day and positively impacting a person’s life. This has allowed me to look for career paths that embody the same ideals.
Think about all those emotions (positive or negative) you get next time you are experiencing something new, helping someone out, or partaking in an unfamiliar endeavor. These could be helpful when considering careers that encompass those similar aspects and bring you the same satisfaction.
Identify Your Values:
This brings me to my next tip, which involves determining what is most important to you. You should make a list of the principles that are significant and relevant to your life. For example, some of my values that I want to exercise in my career are honesty, self-expression, and bringing happiness to others.
Doing this helped me narrow my choices between art, writing, and teaching. This is so because I feel that in art and writing, you are the creator, impacting the lives of many through your own work. While in teaching, you are able to see how much you affect others on a daily basis. Look for a few career paths that incorporate your values.
Envision Your Ideal Work Day:
What do you want your typical work day to look like? Take into consideration how many hours you want to work each week, how many days a week, what you aim to accomplish, and what you hope to gain from your job.
Do you want to work a few days a week, or every day of the week? Do you want your job to pay really well, or are you simply content with just enjoying it? In terms of accomplishments, maybe you want to save a life, maybe you want to bring innovation and creativity to the table, or maybe you want to help others.
Whatever your answers may be, write them down and look for careers that reasonably mesh with them.
Do Some Research:
I feel that this goes hand in hand with everything else I have mentioned so far. If you don’t do any research, how are you ever going to find anything out? Investigate the different fields and jobs that sound interesting to you.
Find out which ones merge your interests, values, goals, and needs all in to one. Once you find a few that seem promising, list them and make it a point to get to know or talk to someone who is doing just that, so that you have a better idea of what you’re dealing with.
Job Shadow Someone:
Moving on to my next and final piece of advice, it’s time to take action. You probably guessed it, but the next best thing you can do is to job shadow someone in your desired field. This is your chance to see if it’s really what you think it is, and whether you would honestly enjoy doing it every day of your life.
Contact a few people who are working in the field, or fields, you are considering and ask them if you can follow them around work for a day. When observing, make sure you dress appropriately, and that you take a few notes on what you like or dislike about the experience and anything that might surprise you.
I job shadowed my kindergarten teacher, and it made me realize that teaching is not for me, but it also strengthened my appreciation for teachers and what they do.
All in all, when you are job shadowing someone, you are able to see first-hand what they actually do on a regular basis and can determine whether you really envision yourself doing the same for the rest of your life.
After you have tried a few of the tips mentioned above and have narrowed down your choices, you should decide the one that you like the most or best fits your needs.
Before you venture on your own, however, I want you to know that nothing is set in stone. You can always change your major, and you certainly don’t have to stick with the same job for the rest of your life if you don’t enjoy it.
I also want you to know that just because you pick one career to pursue, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up everything else you love doing. You can always make room for your other hobbies and interests outside of work.
As for me and my own journey, I have yet to make a decision. I have, however, been able to narrow my area of study between writing and art.
I am still sorting my plans out and, although I may not have all the answers, I have a vision of the direction I want to go. Hopefully some of you found this advice to be useful in some way and I wish you all the best of luck.