5 Ways to Find Direction
Not everyone knows what they want to do after high school. Continuing your education is the perfect way to find a career you’ll love. Erin Mahoney, interim executive director of Career Services at DePauw University, offers these tips:
- When visiting colleges, look beyond the Admissions Office. Speak to someone at the career-counseling center and meet and talk with faculty members in your areas of interest about learning opportunities outside the classroom. Be sure you’ll have the opportunity to apply what you’re learning in the classroom in a “real-world” environment.
- Variety is the spice of life. That’s especially true in college. Make sure to “find a course of study you enjoy,” says Mahoney—not just one you think you should study. Once you do decide, Mahoney recommends taking other courses to expand your skills, because agility is key. A college minor or certificate program in addition to your two- or four-year college degree can add to your knowledge abilities. “[Students] are preparing for jobs that may not even exist right now. They need to be looking at soft, transferable skills—learning to write, to communicate, to problem solve.”
- Follow your dreams. “Are you doing something that’s of value to you?” says Mahoney. “Explore opportunities and talk to people about what they do; don’t just look at how much money you will make. There are so many other factors: your values, your interests, geographic location. If you look at just one factor, you won’t be doing justice to your search.”
- Find ways to gain experience outside of the classroom. Take advantage of off-campus study programs in your community or other countries, internships, research and job-shadow opportunities. “It’s vital that they do some type of experiential activity,” says Mahoney. “So many people get wrapped up in those jobs that families and friends do, and aren’t aware of what else is out there.”
- Network, network, network—with mentors, advisors, college professors and alumni, neighbors and parents. You’ll learn about job opportunities, practice your interviewing skills and learn about potential jobs and opportunities you didn’t even know existed.