Around 52% of students have “no idea” what they want to do with their career after graduation, according to one study. If you’re in the same boat, you’re not alone.
Here’s what you can do to find your calling and choose a career, step-by-step.
Take a Career Quiz
A random Buzzfeed quiz likely won’t generate accurate results, but a professionally built and tested career assessment might. Organizations like Career Explorer, Princeton Review, and CareerOneStop have created formal career assessments packed with questions designed to help find a profession that suits your skills and interests.
CareerExplorer’s quiz takes around 30 minutes to complete. The first 9 minutes are for the personality assessment and reviewing your career and degree matches. The remaining 21 minutes are for reviewing the final results and insights.
Princeton Review’s quiz consists of 24 “would you rather?” style questions. In the end, it’ll ask a few final questions about who you are, such as:
- Are you a student or working professional?
- What is your highest level of education?
- Which area of study interests you?
CareerOneStop’s Interest Assessment consists of 30 questions, although it’ll only take you around 5 minutes to complete. As a partner of the U.S. Department of Labor, the quiz is a dynamic assessment of your likes and dislikes. Once you’ve completed it, you’ll receive a list of career matches and can explore them based on information such as:
- Job outlook
- Average pay
- Typical education needed
And, if you’d prefer to complete it with pencil and paper, you can print the assessment.
Evaluate Them Based on Your Priorities
If you have a few fields that interest you, but you’re having trouble narrowing it down, try evaluating them based on your priorities. Create a list of what’s important to you in a career. This may include items like:
- Positive job outlook
- Ability to work remote
- Good work-life balance
- Control over how you work
- Impactful on society
Then, rate each of the careers on a scale of 1-5 based on how well you think they match those priorities. This doesn’t have to be based on data; it can be strictly based on your personal opinion of the industry.
This will look something like this:
|Positive Job Outlook||5||5||5|
|Ability to Work Remote||1||2||4|
|Good Work-Life Balance||4||4||4|
|Control Over How You Work||2||3||4|
|Impactful on Society||5||5||4|
You may find that one career ranks significantly higher than the other, which could help you make an objective decision about which career to pursue.
Explore Career Clusters
If you’re interested in a specific industry but aren’t sure how to create a career from it, check out O*Net Online’s Career Clusters. Simply select the industry you’re interested in, then browse the list of occupations.
If one intrigues you, click on it and explore the list of tasks, skills, and experience the role requires to see if it’s a fit for you. You may find an occupation you’ve never heard of that is just the perfect fit.
Read Through Job Descriptions
- Does this job description excite me?
- Do the requirements look like skills I’m interested in developing?
- Do I have any background in this?
This will give you an idea of what the industry expectations truly are.
Network With People In Those Roles
To gain an even better understanding of what a field looks like, network with people currently working in it and ask for an informational interview. An informational interview allows you to go to the source to evaluate whether or not the career is a fit for you.
If you’re a student, utilize mentoring networks provided by your college or university. If that isn’t available, simply connect with people on LinkedIn and send them a message to request an interview.
In the interviews, ask meaningful questions you can’t find generic answers to online, like:
- What has been the greatest challenge for you working in this industry?
- Do you find that you and/or your colleagues have a good work-life balance?
- If you could start all over again, would you change careers? What would you do differently?
- What skills do you think would make an employee stand out in this role? Are there any skills you’d be excited to see a new hire have?
Remember, you’re asking for a chunk of their time in their schedule — make it a valuable, meaningful conversation.
Above all else, take time to self reflect. While online assessments are useful, they aren’t the end-all-be-all. Take time to reflect on what you love, what you’re passionate about, and why. Only you know what feels fulfilling.
The Next Step: Getting the EducationOnce you’ve found a career that suits you, it’s time to get the education necessary to land a job. Use sites like College Consensus to determine which degree is best for the career you’ve chosen. And when you’re ready to pay the bill, consider using Meratas to help cover it.