Now What? A Guide to Finding the Right Career Path for You

“Hey, Mom. What do you think about me going into the Peace Corps?”

“I don’t want to say no, … but I don’t want to say yes.”

It can be difficult to find a career path for those who don’t have a specific passion or interest. Some people have it easy and know exactly what lives they want to lead. But, what about those who have NO CLUE? First, you need to find out what type of person you are. Second, you need to combine your strengths and experiences together to create a path you want to pursue. And, finally, be prepared that there may be more than one way to find your career path, even in ways you would never expect.


Who are you?

You would think that, as a 22 year old college senior, I would know exactly the type of person I am. Unfortunately, this is false. Just like in today’s society, we are always changing. Maybe not in a drastic way, but in ways that we may not realize. For example, I had to take two career assessments in order to find and understand my strengths and behaviors. These career assessments are:

TypeFocus is a program that ties your personality type with careers. It shows you your top skills, knowledge, interests, values, and related careers. This is a great assessment to take for those who are not in tuned with their strengths and how they can affect your career.

The StrengthsQuest is a survey of approximately 170 questions and at the end it will show you your Top 5 Themes. These themes are strength-based initiatives that show you your behaviors and what type of person you are. My Top 5 Themes are:

  1. Empathy
  2. Harmony
  3. Positivity
  4. Intellection
  5. Consistency

I was a little surprised by my results, especially with the fifth theme: Consistency. I always tell people that I never enjoy doing the same thing every day. If I have to stay home for more than two days by myself, I get extreme cabin fever. However, I read what their definition of Consistency. It is not measured by time. It’s measured by how you treat people. My results said that being a Consistent person means that “balance is important to you. You are keenly aware of the need to treat people the same, no matter what their station in life.” These results helped me realize that I should not quantify my strengths personally, but, instead, by how they affect other people around me.

Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.”

I was one of those people who could not figure out what I wanted to do career wise. My whole life I told people that I would be a teacher, mainly because I enjoyed school and I loved to read. But every time I said this aloud, underneath I didn’t have the passion for teaching like some of my friends who did. I felt like being a teacher was my Plan B. I just didn’t know what my Plan A was.

Find three different career paths. That’s right, three.

If you are having a hard time figuring out what career path you want to pursue, do some simple math and divide yourself up into three people. This can be difficult to explain in a general sense, therefore, I will use myself as an example. Let’s begin with what type of person I am, and we will create a list. Throughout high school, I was very involved with my church and school functions. I did a lot of volunteer work and community service. I also enjoyed school, especially my English classes. I played volleyball for 5 years. I have worked at American Eagle for 4+ years.

Now, lets see if we can find some career paths in this, and cross out the ones that do not interest me.

  • Church > Religious Studies
  • Volunteer work > Non-profit organizations
  • English classes > Teaching
  • Volleyball > Sports/ Media
  • American Eagle > Retail

Now we have created three potential career paths for me. Yay! However, everyone is different and has unique lives and experiences, and we are always changing. So this way may not be effective to you personally. Another way of finding your career path is by reading the book, “You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career by Katharine Brooks, Ed.D. She uses the method of the Wandering Map, which is what inspired the list above. Brooks introduces the Map to help the reader find their specific path towards their career. It is extremely informational and easy to read, also, it is effective in finding  multiple careers specific to the reader.

Does your academic career support you as a person?

Once I got into college, I took the courses that would provide the foundation to becoming an English teacher. Then, around my sophomore year, I came to the realization that I absolutely did not want to pursue a teaching career. However, I enjoyed taking my English courses and I didn’t want to stop taking them. Plus, there wasn’t another major that I wanted to pursue, and I definitely did NOT want to start all over. So, I went to my advisor and told her that I no longer wanted to be a teacher, and she suggested that, instead of starting over, I should just complete the English major requirements and possibly pursue a Publishing/Editing career. I immediately envisioned myself as Meryl Streep’s character in “The Devil Wears Prada” and thought to myself I can make that work.

Moral of the story: listen to your advisor, and meet with them as often as you can, because 1) it’s their job and 2) they tend to know more about you than you know yourself. Advisors are amazing. 10/10 would recommend.

Oh! and one more piece of advice: Value your degree. No matter what. Take classes you enjoy. After all, you are paying for them. You might as well pay for something you won’t regret spending a fortune on.


Additional recommended readings:

  • “Great Jobs for Liberal Arts Majors” by Blythe Camenson
  • “Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads: Finding a Path to Your Perfect Career” by Sheila J. Curran and Suzanne Greenwald

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