Choosing Your Career Path: Questions to Ask

November 19, 2012

What type of career are you interested in?  Are there a lot of jobs available in that industry?  What kind of money can you expect to make?  Do you think you will be successful doing it?  These are just some of the questions that people tend to be asked or ask themselves when determining their career path.  They seem like the obvious questions to ask; straight forward, to the point, and rather essential to achieving your future goals.

It may be surprising to you then that these questions, as obvious as you thought they were, are not actually that important to determining your ideal career path or rather whether you will be successful in it in the future.  In fact, the aforementioned questions are actually quite superficial and don’t do a good job predicting future job satisfaction.  So what questions should you be asking yourself?

Questions&AnswersWhat do you have a passion for?  How much will you love what you do?  How good are you already?  Are you willing to devote your time and energy to getting better?  How fast do you learn?  Who will be your mentor?  What kind of education are you going to need?  If at first you don’t succeed, are you committed enough to try again? Are you still going to be interested in your career five, ten…, twenty years from now?  What steps do you need to take to get to the top of your career field and are you willing to take those steps?  Can this career give you the life you desire?

These are the questions you need to be asking yourself.  The difference?  The first set of questions help you pick a decent summer job that will get you some spending money and off your parent’s couch for a couple months.  The second set moves you towards choosing a lifelong career goal, workplace satisfaction and financial security.

The difference between choosing a job and choosing a career is worth noting.  A job is something that at the end of the day, you leave behind.  A career is a vocational decision that becomes a part of your life.  Deciding which career path to pursue needs to begin with discovering what you are passionate enough about that you are willing to commit an excessive amount of your time and energy to learning about, thinking about it, getting better at it, and breathing it all in.  Teachers and educators don’t leave their work behind when the last school bell rings.  They often participate in coaching extracurricular activities, summer courses in order to enrich their school programs and at the very least have a stack of assignments to grade and lessons to prepare before finally going to bed.  Marketers and those in the advertising business rarely have a standard work schedule and will make themselves available nearly 24/7 to answer client concerns, meet with printers and media buyers and when they are not on the clock, they can’t help but notice all the marketing that normal people dismiss as clutter in order to break it down, analyze it, decide whether it works and brainstorm ways it could have been better simply because it keeps them on their toes and they find it all fascinating.

If that teacher wasn’t willing to devote extra time to training or at the very least didn’t have a true passion for teaching, they’d burn out before they finished their first university placement.  And if advertisers did not truly have a passion for advertising, they’d be bogged down in the constant flood of media that hits them on a daily basis and run crying from client meetings.

Choosing your future career is extremely important and I would never suggest that it is an easy decision either.  Start by asking yourself the right questions.  Do the research.  Don’t wait until you are 4 years into college or university to find out if you will actually enjoy your work.  Discover your career options by participating in career exploration programs, internships, talking to industry professionals, and attending career fairs.  Yes, it is going to take a little bit of work and some careful consideration.  But if you aren’t willing to put the time in now to find out what career you are passionate about pursuing, what makes you think that you will be willing to put the time in to develop that career in the long run?

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