To find the right career, there are lots of things to think about and actions to take. Careers Out There is filled with career videos to help you tackle this challenge of finding the right career. The other day we looked at 5 things to think about to help answer the “how do I find the right career for me” question. Today we’re looking at 5 actions you can take to find the right career.
ACTIONS TO HELP FIND THE RIGHT CAREER
1) INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWING
Informational interviewing is kind of a fancy way of saying “talking to people.” It’s basically what we do on the videos here at Careers Out There: sit down with real professionals who do the kind of work you’re interested in and get real advice on what it’s really like, how to break in and how to succeed once you’re there. It’s a great way to develop relationships, network and learn. You can start today by asking your friends and relatives to help you set up some meetings with their contacts. We’ve created a video guide on informational interviewing to help you master this great tool so you can find the right career and grow your circle of contacts. I highly recommend you check it out – it’s worth it.
2) SUMMER JOBS
If you’re spending your high school and college summers just hanging at the beach all day, your tan might win contests but you’re missing out on the opportunity to build your skills, and discover what kind of work you’re good at as well as what you do and don’t enjoy doing by actually doing it. Summer jobs also provide you with hands-on experience that lets you see what type of environment you do or don’t want to be working in. Even jobs that aren’t what you’re looking to do when you finish school can help you to develop your skills and get a better sense of what you do and don’t want in your future.
I had a few summer jobs before I started doing internships. I worked as a camp counselor at an overnight camp in Bemidji, Minnesota, clerked at my uncle’s law firm in Chicago and started my own business teaching swimming lessons around the Chicago suburbs. Each of those experiences developed my skills and taught me about myself: I learned that I love and excel at teaching and helping others (that’s why this site was born); I learned that I didn’t want to work in a law firm (I became a lawyer but found other ways to use my degree); and I learned that I liked and was able to develop relationships and work for myself. Just like in my situation, you too can learn a ton from summer jobs that will ultimately help you find the right career.
Whether you get paid or have to work for free, internships are an amazing way to test out a career path by getting to work for a company for a set period of time, often before you’re actually qualified to get a job there. Generally for a semester or summer, internships give you a chance to get a taste of the career path as well as a feel for what kind of work you’re good at and what you like doing. It’s a great opportunity to experience the “real world” and see what the environment, culture and politics are like in an office on the path you’re interested in. I started doing internships when I was 20 to break in to the music business.
My first-ever internship was an unpaid internship at SPIN magazine in New York City. I lived in an NYU dorm in the heart of the legendary Village in order to get cheap rent and a meal plan to keep the cost of living down. Although the job taught me that I had zero interest in working at SPIN magazine, I had a fantastic summer. Living in New York City at such a young age and pretending to be a grown-up was a blast that I would gladly relive if I could only get my flux capacitor to work. I learned a ton through that work experience and also got to write a CD review that got published in an issue of SPIN with Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the cover.
If you want to get internships in whatever fields interest you, you should talk to the counselors in your school’s career center. You can also reach out to the human resources (“HR”) departments at the companies you want to work for and ask what they have available. Another great resource is The Intern Queen. The Intern Queen has a variety of internship opportunities available through her site. She also happens to be smart and full of energy – we had a good chat on the phone last week and I feel good about recommending her site as a resource.
4) CAREER TESTS
Career tests are a great way to discover your strengths and interests. Some of the best career tests I would suggest include the Myers-Briggs® MBTI® personality type assessment, StrengthsFinder 2.0, and iStartStrongTM inventory. To take these tests, you can visit your school’s counseling offices, career centers or even go to a private career counselor. You can also take two of the career tests here.
The iStartStrongTM inventory is particularly great in helping you find your first career. I’m a huge fan of the Myers-Briggs® MBTI® personality type assessment, especially for anyone considering a career change. When I decided to leave the music industry, I took the MBTI and found it to be incredibly helpful in better understanding myself and in pointing me towards my second career: legal recruiting. (For those who know the test, my type is on the border of ENFP and ENTP). Either way, I highly recommend taking career tests to help you find the right career.
5) VOLUNTEER WORK
Whether it’s volunteering your time to help a local non-profit charity whose cause you believe in, help your neighborhood park district, or work on behalf of whatever religious institution you belong to, volunteer work gives you an opportunity to do a good deed while getting work experience that you might not otherwise get. This experience could uncover skills and interests that you didn’t know you had. After my mom died of lung cancer, I joined the board of a cancer research non-profit. As a volunteer for them, I’ve brought in corporate sponsors to help pay for some of our fundraising events. I’d never sold corporate sponsorships at any of my jobs but, thanks to volunteering, I got to add that skill set to my toolbox and discover that I really enjoy it. Volunteering also gives you exposure to a wider variety of people, which broadens your network and helps you further discover the type of people you do and don’t want to be working with. Volunteering is a great way to help you figure out what you really want to do.