By Victoria Feng, Money Smarts Editor and AKOM Editor
From when you were really young, you’ve probably been asked this question: what career (or job) are you going to choose? If you’re like me, you do it every year while filling out those “get to know you” sheets. Even though choosing any career would be fine on those sheets, a career is a big deal, especially after high school. While a lot of high school graduates go to college, it’s usually recommended that you choose a major. A major is a field of study a student plans on learning about, more often than not related to a student’s career.
Before I move on, I want to clarify one thing: a job and a career are not the same thing. While sometimes they are used interchangeably, they don’t have the exact same meaning. A job is a temporary position. A career, on the other hand, is a field that someone plans to stay in for a long time. While they aren’t the same thing, these two terms do have a relationship. Usually, people get jobs that relate to their career. For example, Sally Jane might get a job at A and Z Firm, but her career is law.
Now here comes the big question: what career should you choose? There are plenty of tests out there to determine what career you should choose, what Harry Potter character you are most like, your favorite food, etc. Unfortunately this test is based off of a simple calculation that tallies up how many times you choose a certain choice based on what the item’s description is like. One time, I took a career test myself, and the recommendations I got were way off interests and careers I can actually envision myself doing. I recommend that instead, focus on your passions and think about what you’d like to do for the rest of your life. Of course, money may be an important factor too.
According to Business Insider, the top five highest earning jobs are anesthesiologists, surgeons, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, obstetricians and gynecologists, and orthodontists. These jobs are all in the field of medicine. Whether money is a factor is a highly-debated topic. Some people say that money doesn’t matter, and to choose whatever career you like. Others say that money is essential and you shouldn’t decide on a career before having money as a main factor. I stand somewhere between all of this. As the Money Smarts Editor, I understand money is crucial and improves our standard of living. Without money, we would not be able to have much of what we have now. But I also feel that it’s important to fuel your passions. Most likely, the career you choose in a few years will be the career you have for the rest of your life (unless you make a career change that is, of course). My personal advice to you is to choose a career based on what you love doing, but when it comes down to a few choices, consider what’s important to you, then go for it.
Even if you think a career is right for you, you only know if you’ve tried it. So before you make a final decision about your career, I strongly recommend that you become an intern or interview a person who is already in the profession. An internship is basically an opportunity for someone to get hands-on experience from someone who is more seasoned in a field. Sometimes internships are paid; but the most important part is to learn something from the person. Another similar way you can learn more about a career you’re interested in is by interviewing an experienced worker. While you can’t get experience yourself with this method, you can ask some helpful questions like, “What has been the most rewarding part of your career?” as well as some of the challenges and how to combat them. Both options seem nice and in the business world, are recommended.
Are there any goals you have for your career? Any things you hope to achieve? When deciding a career, you may want to plan out some rough ideas of things you plan (or hope to) during your career. Like if you want to find a cure for a cancer or go to Hollywood, write that down or conjure a map in your mind. How will you get there? Even if your dreams change, writing this down now will help you plan your next step. After all, having a plan doesn’t hurt.
Finding a career may be sometimes hard, but I promise you doing the work and research now will pay off later. So remember that choosing a career should be based on the things you value (e.g. time with family, working outdoors, money) and passions. Don’t consult some “What Career Should You Choose” Quiz. People who are in your real life understand you better than an automated computer. Once you have chosen one that you think is right for you, try to be an intern or interview a seasoned worker. Good luck to you and your career!