Career Q&A: What career should I choose? | Lindsey Pollak's Blog

Career Q&A: What career should I choose?

Q: I graduated college a few weeks ago, have agreed to take a job for the summer and in the fall will embark on a Master’s degree (entailing a couple of night classes a week). I am not sure if I’ll want to pursue a Ph.D. in the future, but for now, I’d like to explore a different career path. I was an English major, have interests in communications, literature, and non-profit work, but I’m having trouble deciding what area to go into. What should I be doing in the next two months (while at my current job) to research/determine what area I should go into?

A: It sounds like you are very eager to determine your career path before you start your master’s work. I completely understand that desire, and I also know from experience that choosing a career is not something that can be rushed. You may not decide what you want to do until you actually meet someone who does it (that’s what happened to me). So, let’s talk about some ways to maximize the number and variety of careers you are exposed to over the next two months and into the future:

My first suggestion, as always, is to talk to people you know–as many as you can–and ask about their jobs and career paths. Since you’re a recent college grad, most people will be more than willing to share some advice and suggestions.

You might also enjoy reading some books that explain various careers and feature interviews with people who have pursued them. Two of my favorites in this category feature young professionals talking about their jobs. Check out Alexandra Levit’s How’d You Score That Gig and Katy McColl’s Should I Do What I Love?

Finally, if you’d like to take a more formal assessment test to determine some fields you might enjoy, check out the free career assessment test offered on my book’s website, GettingfromCollegetoCareer.com.

There really are no shortcuts when it comes to finding your career. A lot of the decision comes down to trial and error and trusting your gut. Just promise me you won’t quit before you find a career you love!

  1. Great points Lindsey! If people are having trouble finding contacts to informational interview, don’t forget about your university alumni association. Most have searchable databases online that are free for alums to use. Many also offer mentoring programs where you can be paired up with an alum working in a field that interests you. I’ve expanded my network tremendously this way and wanted to share the tip!

  2. @ Maggie Mistal – Excellent point, thanks for the tip!

    – Lindsey

  3. Another option is to talk to a career coach, especially a coach focused on college students and grads. As a career coach myself, I strongly encourage the use of assessment tools plus coaching techniques that help you get in touch with your dreams, passions and values. In my experience, the clues are often not so far below the surface, young people just need someone to help them figure out how to pull it out, put it all together and explore the possibilities.

    Don’t go too far down the Master’s path until you have some vision of where it may lead.
    Gail McDaniel

  4. @ Gail McDaniel –

    Great point. I used a coach when I graduated and continue to use coaches. Thanks for the comment!

    – Lindsey

  5. andie says:

    It is extremely hard to choose a career,I know from my personal experience which was traumatizing.I read a lot of articles and books, until I found an ebook really helpful.It was by a french autor,not so well-known, but it gave a personal insight on the subject that i found revealing “What career to choose?short guide for undecided” by Alice Laurent.I recommend it for those to simply don’t know waht to do with their lives.

  6. Drew Tewell says:

    Thanks for the advice! I agree that it may take some time for someone to figure out what they want to do. Learning about what’s out there, reading, and taking assessments can all help.

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