Help! I don’t know what to do with my life.
Why would you? People in their 40s and 50s still don’t know exactly what they want to do in life. You know why? Because they are still living and learning more about themselves every day. Pressures are placed on students by their families, friends, and themselves to be successful. Oftentimes you need to choose a major during the college application process, so you may feel locked in to a specific career path from day one. Did you know that 80 percent of students change their majors at least once during their college careers? Or that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker currently holds 10 different jobs before age 40? Or that Forrester Research predicts that today’s youngest workers will hold 12 to 15 jobs in their lifetime? You are not alone.
It’s a long road ahead and not knowing what you want to do can be very stressful and can make you feel lost. Here’s what you can do to increase your chances of figuring it out:
- Your major does not necessarily dictate your career. Not all literature majors become writers or professors, and not all computer science students become programmers. You are more than your major and the skills you develop in pursuit of your major make you marketable in many fields and industries. The key to success is to major in what you love and find a variety of opportunities to use the skills you develop in this major. Computer science students often develop strong investigative and problem-solving skills. These skills are desired in many fields. The trick is to learn how these skills are transferrable and how to articulate this to others.
- Visit Career Services and take a career assessment. Career assessments can help you identify your personal values, interests, skills, and personality style. Follow up the assessment with a career advising session. Career advisors are skilled at helping you find jobs and careers that best fit your professional profile. They can even recommend on- and off-campus opportunities for you to test drive career options.
- Say yes to opportunities that appeal to you. Maybe you are an engineering student and you’ve been asked to join the marketing club. Marketing is an interesting subject, but it has nothing to do with engineering, or does it? Of course it does! If you engineer a solution to a problem, how will others know if you aren’t skilled in the art of selling or persuasion? If you aspire to a leadership role, you will need to effectively communicate and present your ideas to others. Getting involved in a variety of fields helps strengthen your skills and educates you about the many jobs you are capable of holding in your lifetime.
Understanding who you are right now can lead you to who you will become. Don’t limit yourself, and enjoy the process.