How To Narrow Your List of Possible Career Fields

This article was written by our Everly Mag Intern, Rachael.  Get to know Rachael and our other interns here!

It feels like people always ask us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When we were in kindergarten, the answer was something like “a firefighter” or “a writer.” But many times these answers change as we realize that maybe we don’t like the fires or maybe we don’t like writing as much as we thought we did.  Plenty of people’s answers stay the same, but yours might change. A great starting place is to first ask questions about yourself and then create a short list of fields you might be interested in. Click here for the first article in this series exploring how to start this short list! (link to article)

Once you’ve reflected and thought more about what you might want to explore as a possible career, it’s time to get your hands dirty. You need to experience what life might be like in these fields because media like Facebook and Netflix doesn’t always portray what life actually is like in many industries. As a nurse, don’t even get me started on the inaccuracy of many medical shows. Sometimes life in the entertainment industry isn’t as glamorous as it may seem, especially when you’re up at 3am for hair and makeup on a set.  This is when you start to ask the hard questions about what an individual’s role is in a job as well as why people chose to work where they do!

When we say fields, we’re talking about medicine, management, law, politics, science, etc. There are so many roles in each industry, and it can be overwhelming to narrow your search to one role-like a biomedical engineer-early in your career research!  Keep your list to a generalized search of career fields during this point in your exploration. It’s definitely okay to research specific roles within a field, but don’t look at only that one role.

Tip 1: Research. Research. Research!

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When it comes to researching fields and careers, Google is your best friend. You can always start any search using Google!  Look up news articles, companies, and even Wikipedia as a starting point. You can also browse news articles on what is currently happening in a field and see if any of the topics interest you!

Other websites like O*NET Online and the Occupational Outlook Handbook are useful for exploring the skills needed in various fields. Don’t let these websites overwhelm you! They are mostly for college students as they near graduate, so the sites are extremely specific. Just take a look at the values and skills for each field and take a look at the financial side of each career too. Money isn’t the most important thing in the world by any means, but it’s a good idea to consider salary when looking at positions. But, never let this stop you from pursuing what you are truly passionate about.

You can also look at Berkley’s career website. It’s designed for college students, but it provides links to professional organizationsorganizations that people join once they are working in a career. They have information about the roles their members play in the world as well as their core values, aka what they believe in and stand for.

Tip 2: Volunteer

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Volunteering is a great way to both learn about a field and gain experience in it. Things like volunteering at a hospital, a local charity, or with an after school program can give you great exposure into what it is like to serve a particular population, like the elderly or young kids. Sometimes the idea of something is more fun than actually doing it. For now, they can provide great experiences to include on your resume when you build it. Later down the road when you are pursuing a career,  your volunteer experience can show colleges or companies that you are dedicated to your goals.

Tip 3: Shadow

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Just like volunteering, shadowing is a fantastic way to experience what it is like to actually be in a position. Shadowing is when you spend part of a day observing an individual during their day at work.  This is where you can pick more specific roles to learn about within a field. For instance if you’re exploring the medical field, consider shadowing a nurse, a doctor, and a physical therapist. Or if you are interested in law, spend a day with your local representative or talk to lawyers who specialize in different types of law.

Tip 4: Talk to People About Their Jobs

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Take the time during your search to have conversations with people. Odds are that your parents, teachers, and coaches have friends in a field that you are interested in. Take the time to ask these people in your life questions about different career paths. Ask questions like, “Why did you decide to do this?” and, “What is your work life like?”  Also ask them how many hours a week they work,  what they do in their job, etc. These are also great people to volunteer and shadow because you already know them. They are more likely to take the time and be honest with you than someone you don’t know.

Hopefully, these four tips have helped you explore the fields that you think you are the most interested in. And you don’t have to decide right away. Like we said last time, finding your career path is a journey that may change three to four or even six times! Plenty of people even change their career in their thirties, so don’t stress if (even) after researching the careers on your short list you still haven’t picked one that you’re really excited about. There is always room for further exploration.

Photo by Thabang Mokoena on Unsplash

If you’ve identified one that you really want to pursue and you think is a great pick for you, that’s great! It’s helpful to have a direction to your research and networking. If you’ve narrowed it down to two or three, that’s also great! Having a few options to explore will give you a diverse network of people from many fields because the next step in your career journey, no matter if you identified one field or three, is to continue doing what you have been doing.  Keep researching, keep exploring, and keep on learning more about yourself. Maybe even start looking for your first job! Tips on finding your first job to come.

What does your list of career possibilities look like?  Comment below!

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Rachael Elizabeth

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