What do you want to do for the rest of your life?
Whether you are 21 or 50, this question will probably be one of the most difficult you will ever determine. Discovering your elusive “sense of purpose” is no easy task, nor is there a step-by-step guide or obvious answer in a book. Even the standard answer – do what you love – is not easy to define. And, sure, career quizzes are fun, but realizing what will help lead you to happiness and success requires a little more introspection. Once you understand some things about occupations, industries and the economy, you’ll be able to increase the amount of freedom and control over your life and career.
Consider some of these ideas as you explore what degree is right for you:
Begin with an honest self-assessment. Reflect on how you choose to spend your free time, the activities you enjoy doing or the topics you find interesting. Look at the qualities and skills that you have already discovered you are good at. Think about the things others compliment you on. After assessing your strengths, investigate possible industries or fields that rely on these interests or abilities. Then compare possible career paths with the talents you already possess.
Ask others. Talk to friends, family members, your school’s alumni and even current students about their profession or experience in a degree program. Learning about their experiences can be both valuable and eye opening; you may find that a career path is or is not for you after altering your perspective.
Do your research. Look at career paths for the majors or degree programs you are interested in. Several websites and career sources, like SimplyHired or My Next Move, offer useful job search tools including salary guides, job trends and filters that help you search for jobs that match your unique education, experience level and skill set. These sites also offer unbiased, insider information, news and advice about companies, industries and specific jobs that can help you make a critical career decision.
Investigate the path to take. Whichever you choose first, the program or the career, it all begins with a degree. Ensure that the degree you are seeking fits who you are as a person, and teaches you the essential skills and aptitude you need to reach your dream job. What you ultimately decide should leave you excited, but if not, you can always change or go back to school. At Thomas Edison State College, you can change your program at any time, depending on how your goals change; our advisors can work with you to evaluate your credits with whatever programs you want. Or, if you want to pick up where you left off, you can re-start a program you began 20 years ago, regardless if it is included in our offerings. In the end, you and your degree should be a perfect fit.
Choosing a career path and degree program may seem daunting as you evaluate potential jobs, development paths and resources, but you have already made the biggest decision you could possibly make. You have chosen to go to college. Ultimately, your degree is what you make of it. And you already have a pretty good head start.
For more information, visit our career references and links resource.