Things college students should think about when planning a career

When it comes to deciding on a career, there are a lot of things to consider.One of the most vexing problems facing many college students is deciding whether to follow their dreams or pursue a practical, often more financially rewarding, career path.1

Decisions, decisions

Someone in a medical assistant program, for instance, might be thinking about whether to take a job at a nonprofit clinic serving underprivileged communities, or work in a fancier doctor’s office.

Along the same lines, someone in veterinary technician school might be trying to decide if they’d like to work at the Humane Society or in a shelter, as opposed to finding employment with a large, private veterinary hospital. These are just a couple of examples of the choices facing college students across the country.

Timing is key

The first thing to realize is that this isn’t a decision you have to make today, or even tomorrow. Chances are, you will change jobs, and maybe even careers, multiple times throughout your life. You don’t have to plan your entire professional path while you’re in school.

Take time to figure out what’s best for you, and be aware of your circumstances. At one point, you might be in a financially stable position, allowing you to pursue a career that is more in line with what you really want to be doing. At another point in life, you might be forced to take a job you don’t find fulfilling because it keeps a roof over your head and food on your table.

Research

Depending on the career you want to pursue, your options in either the practical or aspirational markets might be limited. Before you work yourself into a tizzy about what you’re going to do with the rest of your life, do some research on the current job market,2 future employment forecasts for your desired profession and where those jobs are/will be available.

Gathering more information will be very helpful in helping you determine your best course of action. Look at places like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics3 to get an overall understanding of the market for your chosen profession, and start surfing job websites. Careerbuilder.com, Monster.com, Indeed.com  and even Craigslist can all be valuable resources when looking for jobs, but you can also use them to start gauging your options for when you graduate.

If you take a long-term outlook on your career by thinking and planning ahead without getting wrapped up in immediate rewards or disappointments, your chances of success both personally and professionally will greatly increase.

1 Eisenberg, Richard, “Career Advice to a Conflicted College Student,” Forbes.com, June 21, 2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2013/06/21/career-advice-to-a-conflicted-college-student/
2 Okoth, Winter, “Career Advice & Tips for College Students,” Projecteve.com, Oct. 14, 2013. http://www.projecteve.com/career-advice-for-college-students/
3 U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics website. http://www.bls.gov/home.htm