Cheesy Analogy or Profound Words of Wisdom?

Posted June 29, 2006 by

Indulge me for a few minutes. Some of my colleagues often compare the process of choosing a career/job with that of buying a car. While it might be a little cheesy, it can be actually quite accurate.
When you buy a car, one of the first things most people do is read about different cars. You can find tons of information online, in magazines, or in the newspaper. What kind of mileage does it get? What are some of the features included? How many doors? And so on. Then, you learn more about it by asking other people. You might talk to your friend who has the same car; what do they like about it? You might ask your mechanic about how reliable it is. You might even ask the car salesman questions about options, financing, and some final technical questions. But the last step is usually test-driving it. You want to actually take it out on the road, see how it handles, and get a feel for how comfortable it is. So as a whole, you read about the car, talk to others about the car, and finally test-drive the car.
The same goes with exploring different careers. One of the first things you should do when deciding on different career options is to read about various occupations. What are the work tasks like? What are the hours like? What is the job outlook? Who does this type of work? There are many great resources for finding out this information. The Occupational Outlook Handbook is a great starting point, as are professional associations and libraries. And of course, there are tons of websites detailing different careers.
Once you’ve read a bit about different careers to narrow down what seems like a good fit, it’s often great to talk to people about the job and career field. That’s where networking and informational interviewing come in. Actually ask people who are doing what you want to do about their experience. What do they like and dislike about the position? What are the common entry-points, and what are the options for advancement? Let’s get first-hand expert advice.
But even after reading about options and talking to people, you still aren’t going to know for sure what careers would be the best fit. The last step is to actually try them out. Take an internship, volunteer, or work part-time in the field. These are all great ways to “try out” the career field and experience it. And even your first, second, and maybe third full-time positions will be a sort of trial experience for you. Often you won’t know for sure if it’s a good fit until you’re doing it day in, day out, with the same people.
Cheesy analogy? Maybe. But if you approach a career decision in a similar manner, you will hopefully lessen the probability of getting “stuck” in a career you absolutely hate. You will have already done enough research to avoid a job you hate.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Posted in Career Advice for Job Seekers | Tagged