How to Figure Out What You Want to Do for a Career

So, you’re a senior and you have no idea what you want to do with your life.

You’re not alone—it’s one of the most common dilemmas faced by college students each year.

But don’t panic! Figuring out the answer to this question doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it seems. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to make the process of discovering your path a bit easier:

  • What do you like about what you’re doing for work right now?

    A great place to start with figuring out what you’d like to do for a future career is to think about the job you’re doing right now (or have done in the past) and determine what you like about it, what you enjoy doing, and what feels the most exciting for you to do.

  • What are the things you dislike about the work you are doing right now?

    On the other side of the first question, figuring out what you do not like doing is also very helpful.
    Does filing, documentation, and other paperwork feel like a mindless soul-sucking experience? Do you dislike having to talk to vendors, or the sales aspect of your job? Knowing the things you don’t like to do are great indicators of things you might want to steer clear of for positions that do a lot of that type of work.

  • Whom do you admire within your extended network?

    You can get some really good ideas about fields, industries, and companies to look into for jobs based on the ‘reviews’ of people you know.

    Think about who in your network you admire and what you admire about them. Then take the step to talk to them and find out more about what they do and how they got there. This can give you some direction on possible career paths to investigate.

  • What problem do you most wish you could solve?

    It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day and forget that there are bigger things we can be striving for. If you have an idea of what problem you would like to solve, it can help give purpose and direction to your studies and career choices. Think about a problem you care about deeply – whether big or small.

  • What do you want your work day to look like?

    This is a great starting point that will help narrow down your job search and focus on what really matters to you.

    For example, if you want to work in a traditional 9-5 job with weekends off, that eliminates certain types of jobs. If you are more inclined to a flexible schedule where you can work from home occasionally and adjust hours around family needs, then you will look for different types of roles. It’s all about finding the balance between what type of job you want and the type of lifestyle you want to achieve.

  • What are your strengths?

    This is a common question, but still a good one if you get stuck on what you want to do for a career. Take a look at the things you are good at or things that come naturally to you. This might uncover some hidden desires that could translate into a career.

    Note: Don’t ignore growth opportunities. Just because it isn’t something you’re already good at, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t challenge yourself to grow in an area that interests you.

  • What’s your personality like?

    Your personality can play a large part in the type of career you’d like to pursue. For example, if you’re a curious and open-minded person, you might like the idea of exploring different fields and have a position that allows you to do that. If you’re highly driven and goal-oriented, you might like a position that allows you to lead, be an independent thinker, and work on projects with tangible results. Or maybe you’re creative and enjoy problem-solving, and might like a position that allows you to figure out how to make things more efficient or fix things.

    Knowing your personality can help you narrow down the career path that best suits you. Take some time to really think about who you are and what type of environment or job would make you happy. Good luck in your journey!

  • What motivates me? (for example words of affirmation, finances, feeling fulfilled, etc.)

    Knowing what motivates you to get up in the morning can be influential in helping you decide a career path.

  • When do you feel most fulfilled?

    This question asks when do you feel the most like you are doing what you’re meant to do. This could be when you’re doing something that comes naturally and brings you joy, or it could be when you are meeting a goal or challenge that takes effort. It’s up to you to decide when you feel most fulfilled! Everyone will have their own unique answer, so take the time to think about what makes you feel fulfilled.

Purpose: To help you find positions, titles, or companies that you might be interested in so you can get more information if that’s something you want to push forward, learn more about, and potentially apply to.

Goal: To be able to answer the following question: I’d like to work as a [insert title] at a company that [type of company] doing [what you’d like to do or what the company does]

It’s only natural for college students to feel overwhelmed by all their options once they enter the job market after graduation.

To help figure out what might be right for you, it’s important to take some time and ask yourself some tough questions about what brings you joy and fulfillment in your life, what skills come naturally to you, and when you feel most fulfilled throughout your day.

Taking this step back can help provide clarity on exactly what type of career path might be right for each individual’s unique situation! Good luck!

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