I read an article about a man in his fifties who regrets his career choice. Now, at the age of 54 he has decided to follow his passion and pursue an interest. Better late than never! So they say.
Last week, I overheard a conversation between two women discussing their jobs. One woman stated that she could not wait for retirement. She exclaimed that she has only two years to retirement; however, she is concerned with being able to pay her bills once she does retire. She continued to state how she feels stuck in her job. Only two years. That’s a lifetime when you don’t like your job.
Working Each Day…Should be Enjoyable
Since most of our day is consumed with working, isn’t it a good idea to (1) find a career that you are passionate about, and (2) pursue a career that you will enjoy doing each day. There is a third goal to consider too. Place yourself in a position where you can obtain another job (and better job) easily when confronted with an untenable situation, such as the woman above.
Following your Passion…Starts In College
I talk to students about following their passion in college. Students select a major in college based on pursuing job opportunities post-college. While I don’t blame the college student, this isn’t the way to start a career. To start, you, as a college student should view college as a chance to explore options and explore interests.
So, if you are on the path to become an accountant (for example, it could be any major) here are some ideas to determine your interest in accounting.
- Join the accounting club on campus.
- Look around the community for a club that specializes in networking for “accountants.”
- Look for a part-time job in an accounting firm in your area.
- Complete an internship in an accounting firm.
- Interview an accountant
If, after completing a couple of these suggestions, you relate to the people, enjoy the environment, and like the culture of the community of accountants, then this is the field for you. If, on the other hand, you determine that this career is not the right fit for you, then you found out an important fact about yourself. This is when you go to the Career Center for help. HELP!
Don’t Neglect Interests
While you are figuring out your major interest, I’d like to recommend taking a class or joining a club on campus that might be fun or might be interesting. For example, I had a student that was very interested in swimming. She took every swimming class offered at the university; beginning, intermediate, advanced, and life-saving. But, she didn’t join the swimming team; nor, did she even try out for the swimming team. She would see the team practice often, but never pursued her interest. Looking back on her career, this is a major disappointment.
If you have an interest, but cannot see how this interest could ever turn into a career, don’t give it another thought. Just TRY IT! Join a club or take a lesson. You never know how these “minor” interests can turn into a career option.
Another story is about a young woman who loved to dance. The problem was she didn’t have a dancer’s body. If you have ever gone to the ballet or seen a ballerina, you would know what I mean. However, this did not deter this young woman. She was determined to dance. When it came time to decide on a career, she chose to become a choreographer. Her love of dance provided an opportunity to construct dance for others. This is called a WIN-WIN situation.
Don’t Eat Alone
Talking to people about their job is a good way to find out about opportunities. When I am wanting to get to know someone, I think of myself as a reporter or interviewer. I ask questions, listen to the answers, and ask more questions based on previous answers. If you want to know what an accountant’s duties are – ask. If you want to know what a typical day is like for an accountant – ask. The more you speak to the people within the field of interest, the more you will get to know if this is the field for you.
If you work full-time or part-time while in college, find opportunities to ask those people you are interested in getting to know for lunch. It is really very easy to state, I’d love to have a conversation about your job. Do you have time for lunch sometime soon? How about next Monday?
A mindset that should be spoken about in college, that is rarely discussed, is a career path is not linear. That means, most people don’t start out in an entry-level position within a company and work their way up. So, most people don’t start out as the entry-level accountant and pursue promotions until they become a senior partner of the accounting firm.
What usually happens is you start out in a career and find a particular interest that you would like to pursue. If this happens, then take a couple of classes in this particular career interest. What might happen, and often happens, is you will change jobs to look for a position in that particular field of interest.
The goal is to keep finding those interests that keep you motivated to pursue more learning opportunities and more experience. Your resume should reflect what you enjoy doing. This way, if you ever want to move to a new company, or pursue a new career, your resume is ready to go. Never depend on the company to offer education or steer your career. This does not happen. The burden of creating a job you enjoy every working day is up to one person…YOU!
For more information about seeking employment and networking, refer to the book Check It Off! Pave Your Way Through College to Career by Vera Teller, Ph.D.