If you have started college after a few years in the working world, you probably have a good idea of what you want to do with your life. However, if you are like most freshmen, you have just graduated from high school. Now, you are expected over the course of just a few years to know what you want to do with the rest of your life even though you have very little life experience. This can be daunting, and you may genuinely feel that you lack the tools you need to make this decision. The tips below can help.
Know What You Love
Of course, the first place to look when you are deciding on a career is to the things you love. Some people have it easy. They have known since childhood that they wanted to be an astronaut, a nurse or a computer programmer. Most people are not quite this focused, but you can look at the things you enjoy doing and consider whether you might want to pursue it as a career. For example, if you are someone that people have always come to about their problems, psychology might be the field for you. If you love examining data, a career in statistics or data analysis could be fulfilling.
Know What You Need
It’s great to do what you love, but you need to be able to support yourself as well. This doesn’t mean you should choose the career that will make you rich, but you should be realistic about the lifestyle you want after college and what career path will support that lifestyle. For example, you may have taken out private student loans to pay for the high tuition costs of getting your undergraduate degree. This is often in addition to federal student loans. What kind of a salary will you need to pay those off promptly along with housing, utilities, food and entertainment?
Keep Your Perspective
While it’s important to try to make the right choice and get on the career path you want to be on early in life, you should keep in mind that with a very few exceptions, the choices you make do not have to be permanent. In fact, a few career changes throughout a person’s life is more common these days than staying on the same path, and the mid-life career shift is common. Sometimes, you can put yourself into a position in which you become paralyzed if you place too high a premium on the decision that you need to make. If you are feeling conflicted or even panicked, try to keep the focus on the best choice for right now as opposed to the best choice for the rest of your life.
Know Your Resources
One thing you have on your side is that as a college student, there are an enormous number of resources available to you. Your advisor, professors and the school’s career center as well as professional organizations and the alumni network can all be great sources of information and advice. You may also have the chance to intern in an industry that interests you. Remember, if the information you gather points you away from the career you thought you wanted, there is always time to change course.