Growing up, I was told to choose a career that will make me happy in life instead of one that will make me money. Although I don’t disagree with this career path, I think it needs to be said with caution especially if you’re a creative type, like myself. You have to look at a bigger picture when you choose your career path.
One thing I have learned as an adult is no one can teach you to be creative. If you are a painter, you are a painter. If you are an actor, you are an actor. Taking classes to better your craft is always a good idea, but you don’t need to major in something to validate your creativity. You NEED to major in something that is going to benefit you down the long run. For instance, if you want to start your own photography business, don’t major in photography. Instead, you should choose a business major focusing on entrepreneurial studies with either a minor in photography or just photography classes.
Why is this a better idea than picking the photography major? It doesn’t limit you.
I went to school for fashion design, because I wanted to be a fashion designer. However, now that I’m trying to get a job outside of being a fashion designer, people look down at my major and overlook me in the hiring process. The fact that I took the necessary business classes or have the experience doesn’t matter. Only that piece of paper does.
I use this example not to discourage you, but to enlighten you. You never know what path life will throw at you or if your plans will change, so it’s best to be as prepared as possible.
If you read my article about the different options after high school, you may be wondering how to choose your career path. After talking with many young adults and making the decision in my own life, I have figured out there are questions you HAVE to ask yourself in order to decide which career path is best to take.
These are not one word questions, and they DO require some critical thinking. So don’t rush the answers. Instead take your time to mull over the answers before you choose your career path (Get the download of these questions here, if you would like to write out your answers). Here are the questions you MUST ask yourself before you choose your career path:
1. What’s your favorite subject or thing about school?
The thing you enjoy going to the MOST is something you should consider as a career path. Even if you don’t like school, there has to be a class other than lunch or study hall that you at least tolerate more than the others. Possibly, you only like the socializing and should consider a job around customer service or something interacting with people
2. What’s your least favorite subject or thing about school?
Maybe you like the actual schoolwork, but don’t like school because of the people. Or maybe there’s a class that you struggle in no matter how much studying you do. Looking critically at this can help you choose a career path (We don’t want people who hate science trying to be a doctor).
3. Do you like regularly attending school?
Maybe you really like certain classes but you can't bring yourself to study or read the books. There are other options besides attending a university that you can consider that work like school, but are more of a hands-on approach (Check out this article to see what the different options are).
4. If you could do anything, without the worry of money, what would that be?
This is one of my favorite questions! We like to consider the income when we look at our career path, but you need to also consider what will make you happy. No one wants to get an ulcer thinking of work or feel depressed every morning before going into the office just for some measly cash.
5. Could you see this as an obtainable career in five to ten years?
We are known as the instant gratification generation. We like things to come to us quickly--not without effort, but we want that effort to pay off soon. This is why I moved home to start a business instead of continuing to work for someone in New York. It's great if you have this dream job, but you also have to consider how long it will take to get there and if you're ok with waiting.
6. What does the career path look like for other successful people in your field of choice?
This is where you may need to do a Google search. Research successful people in your career and see what their career path looked like (A time when LinkedIn can be useful). You won't have to copy their path, but it's nice to get an idea for what you're up against. I also like to interview people to get their insight. Don't be afraid to ask, even if it's just a couple of questions through email. I find that people like to talk about themselves, especially if it might help others.
7. Where would you be employed?
This is important to consider if you can't find work where you currently live. Not everyone is equipped to move across the country, and not everyone can work in a large city. See where your job options are and if that is somewhere you are ok moving to.
8. Would that be somewhere you’d want to live?
This may seem like a yes/no question. But you have to look a little deeper. Consider the cost of living against your salary. Think of your future life (Maybe marriage, family, etc.) and consider if this is a place that will fit that picture.
9. What’s the average starting salary for the entry-level position?
Although salary shouldn't be your main consideration, it should be a factor. Especially if you are going to go possibly $80,000 in debt over something that will only pay you $32,000 a year. This can help you choose a career path and to pick the best option after high school that will work for you.
10. Will that salary be enough to support the lifestyle you want to live?
Just like picturing the life you want, you have to consider the cost it takes to live that life. If you like to go shopping every day, or want to live in a new apartment, but are thinking of choosing a career that can't float that lifestyle, you may be setting yourself up for debt. One of two things must happen: choose a career path to sustain your lifestyle or change your lifestyle to fit your career path.
If you want to print out the questions and think about them, you can get the print out here. I recommend taking time to answer the questions, instead of rushing to fill in an answer. And if you want some ideas for what option to choose after graduation, read my article that lays out career choices for the different choices after high school.