By: Emma '14
“Career” can be one of those scary words that send chills up your spine. Trust me, I know. I’ve been there. Ever been to one of those family parties where you are bombarded with those dreaded questions: “So, what are you going to do after college? What do you want to be?” What a silly question. After college, I’m going to work. When I graduate, I want to be happy and successful. What you want to “be” is a silly way of phrasing a job. However, it could be potentially useful in defining a career.
The starting point of this topic is definitely the difference between a job and a career. A “job” is your after-school shift at your town’s local restaurant that has sub-par chicken parmesan. A “career,” on the other hand, could potentially be something that defines you; something you can “be.” A career should make you happy and successful (in terms of fulfilling your needs and making you not dread going to work everyday).
So how does one go about choosing a “career” versus a “job”? With careful consideration. A career must encompass one’s interests, skills, and needs. For example, I may have a strong interest in mathematics, but that doesn’t mean I have the necessary skills in order to pursue that field as a career. In my case, I have decided to follow the career path of Psychology. I am interested in the field, I have applicable skills in the field and have obtained the necessary grades, and the career will fulfill my needs (personal, emotional, societal, and financial). Not only should one pick a career that they are invested in, they should pick a career that will benefit them. You shouldn’t pick a career that will be like a job: one that will put fancy appetizers and champagne on the table but leave you bored and not stimulated at your job site. The reality of the situation is you can do without all the frills that come with a steady income if you are engaged in a career that means something to you.
Look into your future and consider your own personal goals. What do you see yourself doing in regards to your family and friends – do you have children, a partner/spouse, or a large group of friends? Consider this in making your decision. Where do you see yourself living? What do you see yourself doing in your free time – community service, jet skiing, or relaxing at home with your family? A career path should ultimately relate to these of your personal goals. One should not necessarily pursue a career in entry-level social work if they aim to be traveling around Europe on a private jet five years after graduation. Ultimately, your career goals and your personal goals should be aligned. The means of the goals (your career) should equal the ends (your personal goals).
There are also a lot of things people don’t consider when picking a career. For instance, will your career require a graduate degree? At RWU, we have resources that can help you make these decisions. The Career Center, located across from the Commons, is full of people with expertise on this topic. Trained career advisors can assist you in formulating top-notch resume and help you land key interviews with employers who are doing what you are interested in. At the University Advising Center (UAC), where I work as a PAL intern, we can also help you with this. We can assess your personality type based on a quick online test, and tell you what types of careers those with your particular personality type tend to pursue. Another underutilized resource is professors on campus. Are you in a major that you really enjoy or does a particular course excite you more than your other classes? Take a minute and ask that professor how or why he/she got into that area of study. It is often helpful to gain the perspective of those who have established themselves in fields that may be of interest to you.
Essentially, career planning encompasses an understanding of one’s own values, interests, personality, and experience. Remember, the point of obtaining a college degree is to find a career instead of a job. Find a career, a lifestyle, that not only embraces everything you stand for, but also something that you enjoy doing. Who wouldn’t love to wake up and enjoy going to work in the morning? Although picking something to do for the rest of your life is totally and utterly terrifying, once you find the right niche, you will know. Starting on the path towards an enjoyable and satisfying career can be difficult. The path to your career is not a straight line; it takes a few years and different jobs before you really find yourself in the place of ‘career’. But getting there will be exciting, and the end game is happiness and fulfillment and sense of self-worth. All good stuff!