How to Choose a Career

How hard can choosing what you want to do with the rest of your life be, right? Wrong. You would think that 4 years of college, internships, or part time jobs throughout your youth would point you in the right direction, but sadly that is oh too often not the case.

If you are looking for your first job post grad or looking to make a career change, these three paths may be worth considering!

Aptitude Tests

It may seem like an arbitrary way to make a major decision, but aptitude tests tell you so much more informations aside from an ideal career path. The Gallup’s CliftonStrengths, which in my opinion is the best test, measures 34 themes that fall under four domains: strategic thinking, executing, influencing, and relationship building. Not only will the test indicate your natural talents, but it also acts as a guidance tool to choosing an environment that will help you excel.

If you aren’t keen on spending $50 to take a test, there are many free options online as well. A few great ones I have recommended to my students who are having difficulty choosing an undergraduate major are: 123test, 16 Personalities, and the Princeton Review Career Quiz

Informational Interviews

I can’t even begin to explain to you how beneficial it is to sit down with someone who works in a field you are interested in. Usually those who take informational interviews are eager to share their experiences and paint you a picture of what day to day life looks like for them. These individuals also make for excellent sounding boards. Don’t be afraid to tell them that you aren’t sure what you want to do, because they will take advantage of the opportunity to tell you about all the benefits their career has to offer.

The hardest part of the process is simply finding someone to interview. If you don’t have connections to an individual in the field you are interested in, just hop on LinkedIn and do your research. If there is anything my background in counseling taught me, it is that people love to talk about themselves! So the idea of an informational interview is quite appealing for most.

Experience

At the end of the day, nothing compares to experience. I highly recommend looking for internships, as they offer a unique balance of unsupervised work as well as mentorship. Often times, you come out of your experience with a project approved and sponsored by the company, which looks great on your resume. Moreover, if you truly impress your manager or co-workers there is a chance they could offer you a job as well!

For those of you who are students, many companies offer internships that also count for school credit. So if you are looking for a way to get ahead on credits and get some desired work experience, this is a perfect opportunity for you.

When it comes to picking a career, don’t stress about landing the perfect job the first time around. Many people put too much pressure on getting their dream job straight out of college, but it is called a first job for a reason. There will be a 2nd, 3rd, or maybe 4th! So don’t stress and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

 

Ways to Partner With your School Counselor

If you are having difficulty with a child because they are gifted, dealing with depression or anxiety, or are simply having trouble fitting in, visiting your school counselor is a great place to start. They can either help you navigate the situation or directly assist in helping the child.

In my years of experience, both parents and teachers often only notified me of the situation after things got out of hand. I believe that if I was reached out to when the symptoms were first being exhibited that I could have been of great assistance. So if you are finding yourself in this situation, keep reading to find a way to partner with your school counselor.

If you’re a teacher…

As a faculty, it is our job to look out for the wellbeing of every student on campus. Because of that shared responsibility, I like to think of us as team members! We are only able to achieve this goal if we all work together. So don’t feel like you have to take care of every student in your classroom alone.

Because school counselors aren’t in the classroom with you on a daily basis, it is often impossible for us to be aware of any issues students have unless we are notified. So please don’t hesitate to reach out if you think a student is exhibiting unusual behavior, we are here to help!

If you’re a parent…

There is no doubt about it, no one knows your child better than you do. If you start noticing a change in behavior, motivation, or overall mood, I highly encourage you call your child’s school and ask to be directed to the school counselor. By either meeting in person or having a brief conversation over the phone, we will be able to offer some kind of guidance as well as keep on eye on your child in a school setting.

If you are feeling hesitant about sitting down and talking to your child, we are always happy to help you conduct those conversations. Don’t ever feel like you are alone in the process because we are truly your partners who only want the best for your child.

I can’t tell you how often I wish I knew a parent or teacher was having a hard time with a student. Especially when it is my primary duty to ensure the mental and physical security of every student. I think the best way to summarize this whole piece is: don’t be afraid to reach out- it is what we are here for.

 

Life Advice for College Grads

I know all you 20 something year olds think you are smarter than us old timers, but I have some news for you. I been where you have been and felt the anxiety you probably feel at this very moment, so my insight may actually help you. Regardless if you are employed or unemployed, being pushed out into the real world and transitioning out of college can be a challenge. At the end of the day, the best piece of advice I can offer you is: work your butt off in your 20’s, the rest of your life will thank you later.

So you are looking for a job…

The way I look at it, the job market has a lot more ups and downs than it did in my time. Although you have access to the internet and platforms like LinkedIn, there is also a ton of competition out there. On the other hand, one thing that hasn’t changed is that the best candidate always wins, so in order to beat everyone out you must go in with a strategy. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses so that when you are called out for them in an interview you know how to respond.

The best experience I can share with you guys is my first job interview after college. My boss very bluntly said, “My main concern with you is that you lack experience. How do you expect to perform to our high standard when you don’t really know what you are doing?” I simply replied, “I think what I lack in experience I make up for in my hunger to learn and excel, and I think my academic standing speaks for that.” Interviews are our society’s version of survival of the fittest, so go into each and every interview ready to prove yourself.

So you have a job…

Congratulations, few things feel better than graduating and having a diploma in one hand and a job offer in the other! It is a very exciting time in your life… but it can also be a lonely time. For many graduates, they quickly realize that their peers go from being young, carefree college students to older individuals who are frankly in different stages of life. Whether that means most of your coworkers are married or have kids, the chances of you being the odd ball out are likely.

Don’t let this get you down! Making friends in your 20’s can be hard, but it is not impossible. Get involved in organizations or clubs that interest you like local churches or volunteering programs. Me? I decided to learn a new skill (that interestingly enough led me to meeting my future wife) – salsa dancing. It was definitely weird at first, but it grew to be a fun way for me to exercise, make friends, and relieve my stress. So take a risk, they will pay off.

The most important part of transitioning from a college student to an adult is to not feel alone. Everyone experiences this, it is not just you. So ask your family, friends, or coworkers for advice because, chances are, they will have some nuggets of wisdom for you.