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Deciding What You Really Want to Do

Career Planning – Finding the career of your dreams

It isn’t so farfetched to dream of a career –say, as a Forest Ranger — and to discover later on that hanging out alone in the woods makes you absolutely crazy. Sure, you like to be outdoors and to be hiking, boating or fishing, but all your life you have done it with other people and now, with an assignment to be on fire watch for an entire month, you can’t stand the solitude and silence.

It’s a good idea to take your career choice and run it through a series of questions before you invest a lot of time in a degree that may not be right for you.

deciding on college dream Consider some very basic things:

Do you like to be outdoors?
Indoors? Working with other people?
Doing something all by yourself?

My very first job was in an accounting office with three people. The air conditioning was set to a bone-chilling 65 degrees, the people weren't friendly, and I spent the whole day manipulating numbers. When I was offered a position as a newspaper editor, for less money, I bailed in an instant. The newspaper office was filled with chatty people — all day long. I thrived on the deadlines. I was constantly running out to take a picture, do an interview or go to a meeting. I belonged in this environment where I learned new things, met new people and did something different every day. Thankfully I had not invested four years in an accounting degree!

In addition to your work environment, consider your skills. A biology major can find work ranging from lab research to working with big cats. An artist might end up doing graphic design on a computer, teaching a roomful of kindergarteners how to finger-paint, or decorating china. Understand what you are good at, and what makes you frustrated. There are many paths to follow in any given career and you want to be in a place that makes you feel challenged, but good about your work.

Another key area to think about when you choose a career is your values. Do you like helping people? Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher, counselor or nurse. Many of us find careers where we aren’t in direct contact with customers or consumers and we’re happier for it. Maybe you want to make budgets and financial plans but you don’t want to be the person who sits down with a client and tells them they can’t buy a boat. Think carefully about what you believe is important to you. If you value good health, sound finances, literacy, safety in manufacturing, or clean water — there is a job for you! Working in a field that you don’t find important is a recipe for disaster.
Other factors to consider are things like social status, job security, independence, using skills like public speaking and writing, the opportunity to travel (or not), and how much money you feel you need to earn.

Some high schools facilitate career shadowing days. You’ve dreamed of working with animals and after one day at the local veterinarian’s office you know that isn’t what you want to do for the rest of your life. Or, a day in the courtroom might convince you that you don’t need that kind of pressured environment. If you didn’t get a chance to shadow someone in the workplace yet, it’s not too late. Explore your options carefully, find someone in your chosen profession to talk to, and ask if you can tag along for part of a day.

Finally – do your research! You can learn a lot about different careers by asking good questions and by searching legitimate sites on the Internet. The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s site, www.bls.gov, can help you find out about necessary schooling, certifications, and requirements for certain jobs, what the outlook is for a particular career in the future, and even what you can expect to earn if you choose that path. Your happiness and your future depend on making some good choices now, so put in some effort now to find out which career might suit you best.

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