As a student or young professional, you may still be undecided about where you’d like to go career-wise. Many contemplate and stress over how they’ll make a living, a decision that can be both life-changing and frightening. But no need to fret. Here are five steps you can take to work through your thoughts and figure out the best professional fit:
1. What are you good at, and what do you love?
Yeah, I know. You’ve heard the “follow your passion” line since the day you were born. While some people have a clear passion, many of us find ourselves lost in the “passion puzzle,” paralyzed with fear that we’re not doing it right if we don’t have one burning career goal to pursue obsessively. And even if you do have a passion, chances are high it’s something vague and out of reach, like becoming the next Stephen King.
The problem isn’t the idea of pursuing things you’re good at and that you love; it’s that your aspirations are too broad and difficult to act on. Think of your passions as a starting point. If you want to be the next Stephen King, break that passion down into writing and editing. Then do a “skills inventory” to determine just what else you bring to the table.
Are you good at providing feedback and coaching other writers? Then becoming a writing teacher or tutor might be right for you. How about really digging into a subject, synthesizing a ton of research and guiding editorial direction? Then becoming a tech writer or editor might be a better fit.
Your skills inventory could take the form of a checklist, a mock resume or interviews with friends, family members, mentors and former employers who can provide an outside perspective. You can then return to a tool like the one provided above and more carefully match your skills and interests to job titles, narrowing in on those that are both best suited to you and have the best prospects for growth.