How can I find the right career path for me?

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Bailey from the College of the Canyons asked:

I’m a freshman, and I work full time in the Aerospace Industry.  My work experience has really changed my perspective on my degree and my career exploration.

I’ve lost interest in powering through my General Education requirements, as I have come to believe that no entry-level job can be satisfying . . . so why not just take classes I enjoy? 

I’ve even gone to the extremes of escapism: Maybe a degree isn’t for me. Maybe I need to leave the country. Maybe [fill in blank with absurd alternative to going to college].

I know this is flawed reasoning, but how can I deal with serious estrangement from something I used to be very compassionate about: heavy college involvement in the effort to transfer, excessive career searching?

Hi Bailey –

Wow – talk about having your perspective turned upside down! I can understand why you are frustrated and confused. That said . . .

baby-with-the-bathwaterDon’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!

In your haste to figure out what do do next, don’t do anything drastic or rash, like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

You should finish your college degree.  There are many studies that show that people with college degrees have more opportunities than those without.

For now, focus on two things:

Power through your General Education Requirements

Regardless of the degree you end up pursuing, you will have general education requirements.  Get as many of these out of the way as you can. Consult with an academic advisor at your school to determine which classes will help you fulfill these requirements.  Working on your GEs will also buy you some time as you try to identify a major field of study to pursue.

I have to challenge you a little bit – particularly the following comment:

“I’ve lost interest in powering through my General Education requirements,
as I have come to believe that no entry-level job can be satisfying” 

What does completing your GE requirements have to do with your potential satisfaction with a yet to be determined entry-level job?  I don’t see the connection.

How did you come to the conclusion that all entry-level employment will be unsatisfying?  That is a pretty broad and sweeping statement which – I bet – is just a result of your current frustration. Don’t fall prey to your frustration.  Work to overcome it.  How?

Get to know yourself really well!

And, use that knowledge to drive your academic and career exploration.

What do you enjoy doing?  What are your skills, gifts and talents?  In what kinds of work environments do you best thrive?  What types of work environments are “toxic” for you?  How do you define “job satisfaction”? What motivates you?  What are your hobbies and interests, and what business/professions surround those hobbies and interests?

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

From my perspective, everyone has the right to pursue a career path they will enjoy and find fulfilling.  Sounds pretty great, don’t you think?  Well, there is a catch:  In order to pursue a career path you will enjoy and find fulfilling, you must be able to define that which you enjoy and that which brings you fulfillment.

Think about it: How will you know you got it, if you can’t define it in the first place?

By the way, that is much easier said than done!  I strongly recommend you seek the assistance of a career adviser/counselor at your school.  They can be really helpful in sorting out your options and answering those questions.

 . . . so why not just take classes I enjoy?

If you can afford to do that (financially, that is), go ahead and just take classes you enjoy.  Most people do not have that luxury.

Remember, every decision you make has consequences; some good, some neutral, some bad – but every decision has consequences.

Eventually, you will have to pay your own bills (you may already), and pay back your student loans (if you have any).  That means, you are going to have to work.  And, life will be a whole lot better when your work doesn’t stink, don’t you agree?

Finding a job and career path you will enjoy and find fulfilling takes time, energy and attention. Invest that time, energy and attention, and you will discover a variety of career options to consider.

One last thing!

Try to enjoy the journey of your career exploration – over the course of your life (not just your college career) that journey will take many turns you will not expect and cannot anticipate.  This is normal. Nearly everyone experiences this.

Some people are born knowing precisely what they are going to do for a living – the“I always knew I was going to be a [fill in the blank]” people. Most of us were not!  I think this is good.  Too much certainty breeds complacency.

Consider this:

Many of the jobs/careers you may encounter in your future don’t even exist yet,
so how can you want them right now?

Take a deep breath! Relax! And, start this next phase of your career exploration with an open mind and a blank slate.

Let your curiosity help you explore and let your common sense and intellect help you sort through your options.  Do this, and you will find your way!

Best of luck,


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