When I began my freshman year of college, I thought I would be a medical doctor but when I had to dissect a cow’s heart and it spurted blood all over me, I fainted. I proceeded to faint four more times in that course. My kind professor suggested that I pick a major that did not require handling blood or guts. This began my lengthy process of searching for the right major and the right career. In the end, I switched my major eight times (officially) before graduating with degrees in Management and Communication. And honestly, I still did not know what I wanted to do after college graduation. Seven years and five jobs later, I finally discovered my dream career. Today, I am a professor of communication at Maryville and I love it. Below are a few career myths I wish had been busted when I was starting college.
Myth 1: You are supposed to know exactly what you want to be when you grow up.
The reality is that you will most likely have a couple of careers in your lifetime. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2009, most Americans change jobs approximately every five years. This means if you retire at 65, you will work approximately eight different jobs. Additionally, many people work in
Plus, it is a lot of pressure to put on yourself to try and figure out what you want to do for the next forty years.
Myth 2: If you choose the wrong career, you will be miserable.
My best friend Michelle told her parents at the wee age of three that she wanted to be a medical doctor when she grew up. Fast-forward twenty years and Michelle realized during her second year of Medical School at MU, that she did not want to work with sick people all day and that the reality of being a doctor did not mesh with her idealized image. So, she quit medical school. At first glance she thought she had wasted tons of money and time. But Michelle was able to use her medical knowledge and land a fantastic job working in health care technology.
The reality is that none of your experience is wasted. The experiences I had working in diverse real- world organizations, now help me be a more well-rounded and practical professor. The good news is that we can learn from our experiences. However, there are strategies below to help you make the best decision possible.
Myth 3: You should start preparing and looking for jobs once you graduate.
The biggest mistake I see students making is waiting until their senior year to begin seeking out their career. Furthermore, most college students do not have a good idea of what a job (i.e., a lawyer) entails unless their parent is in the specific occupation. In today’s market if you wait until your senior year, you are behind. Ideally, career preparation should begin during your freshman year. Below are some proactive strategies to get you ahead of the curve and help you make smart career choices.
1) Get thee to the Maryville Career Center
Maryville has a wonderful department of Career Education with an amazing staff of people dedicated to helping you with your career decisions. You can make an appointment with a career counselor by calling 314-529-9375. Also, they have a great career guide online with action items for each year of study. Also, check out career options with “What can I do with this major”.
2) Job Shadow
If you think you may want to be a lawyer, it would be beneficial to actually see what a lawyer does during an average day. Job shadowing is spending time with a professional to better understand the nature of the job. This allows you to see if you might like the day-to-day work required in a specific position. Often, you spend the day or a couple of days with the individual. If you wish to job shadow, it is often beneficial to ask your parents, friends and professors if they know someone who is in your interested field.
3) Conduct Informational Interviews
The purpose of informational interviews is to gather career, industry and/or job specific information in an interview format from an individual working in your interested field. You research and prepare questions ahead of time and then meet with the person for approximately a half hour and ask them professional questions (i.e., How does someone enter this field?). Informational interviews often will lead to internship opportunities.
4) Land an internship (or three)
Your first internship should occur during your sophomore year. Many of the especially competitive internships require a previous internship to apply. Internships are a wonderful way to learn about the world of work. Also, internships in college have been linked to positive outcomes such as greater confidence in career decision-making, (Brooks, Cornelius, Greenfield & Joseph, 1995), the acquisition of new job relevant skills (Garavan & Murphy, 2001), a reduction in the reality shock of full-time employment (Paulson & Baker, 1999), improved ability to secure a job (Callanan & Benzing, 2004), and higher job satisfaction (Gault & Schlager, 2000).
5) Go online and join LinkedIn
LinkedIn may be described as a professional Facebook application that allows you to connect with others in your areas of interest and it can help you with your career/job search. It is a great way to connect with people you meet while you job shadow and conduct informational interviews. Also, remember that what goes online stays online (be careful what you post because a future employer may have access to it).
Finding the right career is a process that takes time. Think of it as a big jigsaw puzzle. At Maryville, you are going to learn about yourself and the many opportunities available to you. With time and your effort, you will be able to put each piece in its place and find your ideal career path.