Blog Posts

How to Choose a Career Path

Career Selection Process

Isn’t it crazy that we use better tools to pick where we are going to eat than we do to choose what our profession is going to be for the next 40 years? Think about it. What is the typical job selection process?

We narrow down the 12,000 options1 for our career paths based on jobs we’ve been exposed to, what we’ve been told we’d be good at, which jobs have the best salaries, and which jobs are most likely to have work in the future. Once we’re down to one or two career choices, we interview friends or family in those professions, and might do a job shadow or two.

Sound Familiar? This process is certainly the one most of us have experienced. But when you start to question how many of these steps narrow the career paths based on whether or not we actually like the options, this process doesn’t look so appealing. Of these tools, the only ones that give a real look into the professions are the interviews and job shadows; and some students never make it that far. Plus, these interactions are through someone else’s eyes, not unlike picking a restaurant based on someone else’s reviews.

Restaurant Selection Process

Consider this, when someone reviews a restaurant, they do so only considering their own likes and dislikes and their own personality. When we talk to those in an interview or job shadow, we may not have the same likes, dislikes, or personality, yet those things sway us. If they love their job, we will be more inclined to pick their profession. If they hate their job, we’re far more likely to move on to the next one. 

Now for restaurants this works because when we look at online ratings, there are thousands of reviews contributing to that rating. One bad experience or one person who is not a fan of the food is not going to prevent us from going to the restaurant. But when deciding on a career, only talking to a few people in each profession puts far more weight into what each person is saying. Even if they just had a bad experience, or were never meant to like their job, those people will affect whether or not we want to pursue their career field.

If You Had To Pick One Restaurant To Eat At

To put this into perspective, if we had to commit to eating in one restaurant for 240 days per year for the next 40 years, don’t you think we would need to try out that restaurant before simply listening to a few people’s opinions? In fact, wouldn’t we want to experience as many restaurants as possible before making that big of a decision? Yet to decide what we will be doing for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for the next 40 years, we rely on the testimony of a few professionals who may or may not share any of our likes or dislikes.

How We Should Be Selecting Our Careers

Start by expanding the number of careers you are considering through research. Next narrow those career paths not based on salary or job availability but based on what they do day-to-day. Once you have 5-10, then go out and get real-world experience in the fields you are most interested in. Whether it be through internships, job shadows, or summer programs, the important thing is that you determine for yourself which career path is best for you before committing the time and money towards following any particular path.

Want To Try Out Your Career?

It’s not always easy to find real-world experience but luckily, at OmniLYF, we have an easy way. Through our Career Exploration Programs students are able to work on real-world projects to gain first-hand experience in all of the career fields they are interested in. This works through rotational 2-week mini-internships where students are trained, work on real-world projects, meet professionals from different fields, all before meeting HR professionals to help them build their resumes and practice interviews. All of this is to provide as much information as possible so when you have to make that monumental decision, you can do so knowing what you are actually committing to.

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