Our Guest Blogger this month is Bill Leonard, President of Leonard Workforce Solutions. Bill is a longtime friend of TecBRIDGE who has shared his expertise with participants of various TecBRIDGE programs numerous times. We appreciate his involvement and willingness to share from what he has learned through the years. To learn more career tips from Bill, CLICK HERE.
Want to help guide someone on the right career path? Or try a new path yourself?
If you mentor high school or college students, or work in any capacity advising adults just entering the workforce or transitioning into a new career or job, or…if you find yourself thinking it’s time for a change…Bill’s advice in this month’s article is for you. In his six tips below, Bill provides valuable resources and suggestions of specific actions to take to determine the career path or job that’s right for the person you are advising, or for you.
“What if I don’t know what I want to do as a career?”
By Bill Leonard
That was a question I received from a high school student who approached me after a presentation I recently gave at the tecBRIDGE Entrepreneurial Institute Conference. That’s a big question that deserves a thoughtful answer and I offered that student what I hoped was helpful advice in the limited time we had together.
That conversation stuck with me in the following weeks. The more I thought about that question, the more I realized that it’s not just high school or college students who are often unsure of what career to pursue. Most people ask themselves this question at some point in their professional lives…often, many times.
The bad news is that there isn’t one right or simple way to answer this question, given all the factors that go into selecting a good-fitting career. The good news is that there are multiple steps you can take to help you make an informed decision. Whether you are a student or nonstudent, the following are six practical ideas to help you figure out what career to pursue:
- Think and write
Set aside time to think about your goals, values, interests, and strengths. Think about which careers or jobs excite you. Think about where you can have an impact. Think about what the world needs. Think about where you can learn. Think about where you can best utilize your natural talents and grow your skills.
Once you’ve done your thinking, write your thoughts down on paper. Let your mind wander to generate ideas, but then write them down so you don’t forget them. Doing so will create an inventory of, and make connections between, your ideas. This process generates many ideas which can be narrowed down at later points.
Volunteer often to expose yourself to new people, ideas, situations, and roles. You learn about the world and yourself. In doing so, you create news experiences, develop new interests, and acquire new skills – all of which can contribute to figuring out what you want to do in your career. A few hours of your time can help you determine what you want to do in the years to come. Help yourself by helping others.
Gather objective information and data about various occupations to help you make informed career decisions. A good place to start is www.onetonline.org. Here you can learn about occupational knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs), work tasks and activities, typical credentials needed, wages and employment, and job openings, among many other things. Another place you can explore career options is https://www.careeronestop.org/.
Useful occupational information exists. Find it and use it to increase your awareness of potentially good-fitting careers.
4. Conduct informational interviews
One of the best ways to learn about careers – and whether a particular career is a good fit for you – is to participate in an informational interview. An informational interview is when you talk to a person who is currently in a role you are curious about. It provides you an opportunity to ask important questions such as, “What is the best and worst part of this career/job?” “What is it like in the first few years?” “Is this occupation growing or shrinking in our area?” And most importantly, “If you had to do it all over again, would you make the same career choice? Why or why not?”
You’ll learn more about a particular job from someone doing it than you can from a book or website. However, you should interview at least five people for a role you are curious about. Doing so will reduce the chance of a single voice influencing you.
5. Shadow someone on the job
Interviewing someone about their career/job is important, but so is watching them do their job. A job shadowing experience is when you get to observe a worker doing his/her job, typically for a few hours or an entire workday. Doing so enables you to see what that person does, and what that job entails, hour by hour, task by task. A career/job may sound fun, interesting, or impactful in theory, but the reality may be different. You’ll find out what an occupation is really like – and whether you want to pursue it – by observing someone in that role.
6. Work in temporary roles
When you work in a temporary role, you get to test it out for a finite period without having to commit long term. Taking on temporary roles provides you with the experience you need to determine whether to pursue a particular career/job or try out something else.
If you are curious or unsure about a role, do the job for a short period of time. It will help reduce the risk of making a bad career choice. Who knows, you may even determine it’s the career/job you’re looking for!
Careers (and jobs) aren’t just about money.
The job or career you choose is also about fulfillment, identity, contribution, purpose and so much more. A good fitting career can be a major contributor to a happy, successful life. The above tips should help you to both eliminate bad-fitting careers and narrow in on ones that are good-fitting for you.
However, it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself to decide on ONE CAREER. Because you’ll have MANY CAREERS throughout your working life! You’ll likely go through many transitions, pivots, and changes. What you want to do as a career will change.
So, don’t worry about what you want to do for the next 40 years. Instead, think about what to do for the next few years. Don’t feel like to you need a forever answer. Hopefully the above ideas will help you figure out which career to pursue – right now.
For more career development tips and information, visit https://www.leonardworkforcesolutions.com/news.