Make That All-Important Career Choice!
Decades ago, your educational attainment pretty much chose your occupation for you. Your vocational course or college major determined your career. In this age of multi-skilled, multi-tasking professionals however, you have the privilege of more flexibility in your options. If your background is in computers, you can find work in almost any field. If you’re a management graduate, you can choose between a myriad of product or service industries, not to mention the entrepreneurial route of starting your own business.
Your career is so much more than just your job. It is the field of your profession, the kind of people you work with and the contribution you make to society. Because your profession will impact you on so many levels, it is crucial to give a lot of thought and discernment to your choice.
Determine what you’re good at. Being effective at what you do makes for a healthy professional life. You may be the best person to assess your strengths, but ask your family and friends what they think too. Their objective insights may reveal a side of you that you didn’t know the public appreciates. You will serve yourself best, do your work justice and benefit your stakeholders most, when you are good at what you do.
Be aware of what you like doing (and what you don’t). Imagine yourself working 40 or so hours throughout the week. The least you can do is choose a career that will leave you happy and satisfied at the end of each day. When you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll perform better when rising up to challenges and overcoming obstacles. On the contrary, if your job is just a function of employment for you, even the slightest difficulty will be frustrating. Choose to be happy!
Know your personality type. Your expertise and interests may lead you to a particular field of discipline. However it’s your personality type that will help determine the kind of job you want in that field. If you’d like to be in education, are you more suited to be a teacher, a researcher or an administrator? If you want to work in chemistry, do you want to do medical research or be part of a glamorous cosmetics laboratory? There are scientific personality tests you can refer to. One helpful measure is the Myers-Briggs typology which uses situational questions to mask personality assessment. See whether you are more introverted as against extroverted; if you rely more on rational thinking or on your emotions; if you tend to use your five senses over your intuition; and whether you are more process-oriented or more concerned with results. These factors weigh in heavily on the kind of job that fits you.
Look at compensation. Check if the career you want will give you the compensation you need for the quality of life you envision. Compensation doesn’t just mean your salary. Examine the included benefits, any further training offered, and career advancement opportunities available. Look at the work load and schedule. How much personal and family downtime will you have? Will this career allow you the quality of life you want?
Is it a good springboard for making you marketable to other opportunities in this field down the line?
Align your personal mission. Beneath all the skill, practice and material compensation, your choice of a career is a self-expression of who you want to be. Although your job is definitely not the only element that identifies you, it is mainly how you’ll participate in and contribute to your community. Look inside you and ask yourself what causes you want to address, what problems you want to help solve, what principles you wish to advocate. Is your career choice in line with all these? Years down the road when novelty wears off, will the path you’re taking still be meaningful? In the long term, it’s the personal fulfillment you derive from your career that will sustain you.
Choosing your career is a big defining moment. It defines how you’ll spend most of your waking hours. It defines how you’ll earn a living to sustain yourself and your family. It can heavily influence the kind of lifestyle you’ll have, the type of people who’ll surround you and the general direction of your personal growth. With all of that invested, you owe it to yourself to choose wisely.