As a student you may have heard different messages about how you should choose a major or career path from family, mentors, or the media. Perhaps you’ve been encouraged to follow in the footsteps of family members. Friends may have told you to look for jobs that are practical, in demand, or promise high earning potential. Others may have advised you to simply “Figure out what you love, and then do it for a living.” How do you best decide?
The career debate between passion and practicality has been going on for a long time, and from our perspective as career advisors, there are things to keep in mind with both approaches when choosing a major. For example, if you decide to pursue a passion without concern for job market demands, you might find that for the work you want to do, you’ll have to relocate. The question then becomes a matter of what you value most: a particular profession, or geographic location.
If you decide to choose a career based only on job market demand or salary potential, you might find yourself unhappy, tied to a job you don’t enjoy, or worse, hate. Beyond that, you might also find that your natural skills and abilities don’t align with the career you’ve chosen. If that’s the case, going to work could become a daily struggle. Remember this: from the time you graduate until the time you retire, it’s likely that you’ll spend more time ‘on the clock’ than with your family or friends. It’s important, then, to find a career that’s a good fit for you!
In short, the Graham Office believes that the best approach to choosing a career is to balance both things – passion and practicality. Self-awareness plus knowledge of the job market equals a good career choice. Know yourself, know the market, and then you can know your options, including the major(s) that will help you achieve your goals. So, what do you need to know about yourself? The best way to figure out who you are and what you want in a career is to begin by looking at the strengths and characteristics that make you you: your personality (how you’re wired), your interests (what you like), your work values (what motivates you), and your skills (what you’re good at). Ideally, your career will be comfortably aligned with each. Your Graham Career Advisor will guide you as you assess yourself in these areas and will help you connect who you are to where you’ll go.