Most People Don’t Love Their Jobs
In fact, 78% of people are either not engaged at work or they are actively seeking another job1. That’s three quarters of the American population that would be happier doing something else. And while that seems to be a lot, that number is probably not high enough. If you consider there are over 12,000 different jobs2, the sheer odds of picking the profession that would make you the happiest are not good. We need a better way to determine how to find the job you’ll love?
Odds Of Picking The Job You Would Love Most
If making a complete guess, you would only choose your perfect career 0.008% of the time. For reference, the odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000 or 0.03%. That would mean you are four times more likely to be struck by lightning than picking your perfect career path. But surely we are better at picking our ideal careers than this, right?
Typical Career Selection Process
So, how do we typically answer the question of how to find the job you’ll love? We asked current college students at the University of Houston and here is what they said:
The students started off by considering 10-20 jobs they’d been exposed to either through parents, friends, neighbors, or what teachers told them they’d be good at. They then narrowed their search down to four or five based on the ones they believed they would like. Then, the students googled the average and maximum salaries in each profession and which ones were most likely to have open positions four years down the road. Through the internet, they narrowed their professions to one or two. Finally, less than half of the students chose to interview a few people in each of their remaining job interests with even fewer doing a job shadow.
Career Selection Breakdown
Let’s break this down. Students go from 12,000 options to 10 to 20 by considering only those jobs they have been exposed to. This means 99.8% of all available jobs have already been eliminated. Next, students think about the times they have had any contact with these professions (even if it’s just seeing the job in a movie) and attempt to determine how happy they might be by envisioning themselves in each of those jobs. While a good practice, if they have any misconceptions about the careers, which we often do, they’ve eliminated 99.96% of their options without really understanding the careers. The next step is to consider the potential salary and predicted odds of being able to find a job upon graduation. These variables are good to consider, however, neither indicate how much you would like the job. Yet they are used to narrow down the career search to one or two. Finally, the first real world interaction with the profession, interviews and job shadows, are not used nearly enough and are given too much weight when they are used (seeHow to Choose a Career Path).
While this is the typical process most college students practice to answer “how to find the job you’ll love,” most non-college graduates use a similar process. The one difference is they typically rely even more heavily on the jobs they’ve been exposed to. So, if everyone is using this process, it must be right…right?
Where Are We Going Wrong?
Consider this. Using the current process, we go from more than 12,000 careers down to one without ever experiencing the profession for ourselves. Yes, we may have seen others do the job, and yes, we may have heard how much others like their jobs, but when we are committing to 90,000 hours of working in a particular profession, shouldn’t we try it before we decide? In fact, shouldn’t we try as many professions as possible so we can enjoy the next 40 years of our lives?
Getting Real-World Experience
Option 1 – Great option if you can find a good one
So how can we go about getting this experience? Internships can be difficult because we typically don’t know enough or have any expertise when we are first deciding what we want to do. This makes it not only difficult to secure the internship, but when we do, most companies don’t put us in “real world” situations. We are instead given busy work and paper shuffling that doesn’t give us a clear idea of whether or not we like the particular profession. In fact, these types of internships can actually work to push us away from that particular career.
Option 2 – Not the best option
Another option is taking classes in college to answer “how to find the job you’ll love?” Although this is the most widespread experience gained by students, the academic world doesn’t always mimic what it’s going to be like in the “real world.” Also, one bad class or one bad teacher can affect how much you think you like the profession; even if the class has nothing to do with what you would be doing in that career.
Option 3 – Best option for most
The final option is to sign up for a program like OmniLYF which allows high school and college students to try out different professions through 2-week mini-internships. Students are able to gain “real-world” experience by working through projects developed by professionals in each field. Because students can try multiple professions, they can better determine which career path is right for them; or they can decide if they need to keep looking. The link to sign up for this program is below.