Monday, January 16, 2017

On Choosing Your Path

“Most of us don't merely take up the space the universe intended for us.” Caroline McHugh couldn’t have said it better in her TED talk, “The Art of Being Yourself”.  I want you to read that first sentence again, maybe even twice. Choosing a career path is only the start of taking up the space intended for you, and using your given talents in a way that is both satisfying to you and also contributing within the space you are working. If you’re anything like me, I think it’s a little absurd to know what you ‘want’ and ‘are’ going to do for the rest of your life upon receiving your high school diploma. Knowledge is so vast, and through the many opportunities and different paths you may choose to take, it can sometimes feel like the paralyzing weight of the world is crashing down on you (too dramatic?).

Anyway, here are some things that can perhaps ease that weight, and give you clarity:
  • Take an MBTI test to better understand your personality strengths and how that could look, or best fit within a career.
  •  Talk to a career counselor, mentor, and/or trusted professor at your local university – if they’re the right person in the right job (irony), odds are that they want to help you make that decision. Close friends and family are also good for talking through this sort of stuff.
  • Think about and write down your interests, strengths, and values – this can help guide your decision, or at least bring better awareness to what you find important.
  • Explore different fields and functions – shadow a family friend or ask a company an informational interview. This is not only extremely helpful, but can also open doors for you in terms of your professional network.
  • Use online resources like LinkedIn to meet and network with professionals. Don’t be afraid to send someone an email asking for an informational interview. Also, explore companies, job boards, and role descriptions. It can be daunting, but also enlightening. (PS: I hear LAMP is a great organization that can help too!)

It’s important to please never forget that this is your decision to make and it is your life you are living. A job is what you choose to make it; it can either be a stream of income to help cover your rent and pay off student loans, or your career can be a source of daily intrinsic satisfaction. The search isn’t perfect, and sometimes you have to see things as stepping stones to get to where you truly want. Be patient through the process, and learn and adapt as much as you can during each step.

-Anna Mouchref

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