The Blog You've Been Missing

‘Choosing’ Your Career Path

September 25, 2010

Filed under: Coaching,observations — admin @ 3:50 pm

“I thought I wanted a career; turns out I just wanted paychecks.”- anonymous

My newest client is a recent college grad looking for her first job. She’s been out of school for a year and is realistic about the job market but wanted some help with her first real resume.

Like a lot of young people I work with she’s worried about choosing the right career path. My first assignment to her was to interview her older friends and family members to find out how they ‘chose’ their career.

A few weeks later we talked again and she admitted that her conversations had been a bit of a revelation. “Most of them didn’t choose anything,” she said, “and some had to really think about how they got where they are.”

That’s the point, careers are made up of a thousand small decisions that seem unimportant at the time, but when you look back at them, add up to a career. The fact that many of her interviewees were in jobs unrelated to their major was another revelation.

She talked to one person with a teaching credential who wound up selling insurance and an engineer who wound up as an accountant.

She even asked me how I got from a degree in political science to Journalism and then coaching. I’ll leave those details for another post but the point is most people will have numerous jobs. Hopefully they make choices along the way to positions they think they will enjoy and stay in the ones that gives them the most satisfaction.

The point , I explained, was to get a job and get some experience so that when you look for you next job you have a track record that future employers can see. Hopefully it will be in an area that interests you but if not, at least you’ve ruled out something and gained some valuable experience.

When you are young most employers know they will teach you how they want the job done. They want to know that you have the soft skills – communication, ability to work with others, showing up on time, taking responsibility and perhaps some degree of emotional intelligence. Those are skills that you can’t teach, or at least they can take a lot longer to instill.

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