We aren’t given a crystal ball to predict the future. There is no way to know for sure what college career will or will not make us happy or in which we will be successful. Here are some guidelines that will optimize career success. These are indicators for college career success. I wish I had known these things back in my college days.
As a note, from one woman to another, I would like to point out to younger women that “Mrs.” is not considered a degree. You may think that you will find a husband in college, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue a career course. Even if you don’t end up working right after college, you always need something to fall back on, and you may also decide that having a career is more rewarding than just being a “Mrs.”
First, there is a myth circulated by many college and career counselors about choosing a college career that needs to be dispelled. “Choose a college career that makes you happy.” Obviously part of the college career success formula includes choosing a career in an area that you enjoy or interests you. But some career counselors hang far too much importance on enjoyment of work as a success indicator. It’s an urban legend that successful people are always happy in their work, or that you will always enjoy the career you choose. Just like in choosing a future spouse, there is no one perfect person or career for each person. Every career has advantages and disadvantages. How those positives and negatives play out in each individuals career experience will vary, too. Life, relationships and work are what we make of them.
And that brings me to point two about choosing a career. There is no completely accurate way to gauge the economic forecast for any given career. You can analyze the current job market extensively and still end up in a career with no future. But there are indicators to be mindful of when choosing a career. We were advised in college to avoid “sunset careers” and lean toward “sunrise careers” or “evergreen careers.” Sunrise careers are up and coming careers; sunset careers involve work in industries that are obsolete. Evergreen careers include jobs in industries that will always be needed (health care, public service). Beware of choosing careers that everyone is pursuing, also. No matter how many people are needed in a career field, the market becomes saturated after a while. This happened, to some extent, with data programming. Some career fields operate on a pendulum effect. They swing back and forth between high demand and glutted market. Teaching is a pendulum career.
The best way to choose a career is, of course, to select one that balances doing what you enjoy with one that provides financial solvency. But let me add one vital aspect of college career selection. Choose a career that enables you to work in the field before completing a full bachelors or master’s degree. Many careers are tweaking their college curriculum to enable ‘internship’ or ‘technician’ level jobs. Jobs like occupational therapy, physical therapy and pharmacy; these jobs initially required at least a bachelors degree (aka bare minimum four years education) to perform. Now careers like these offer one year or two year technician programs. After completing the shorter program you will be qualified to accept jobs in the field and work your way up to fully qualified levels if you so choose. This is a practical way to earn better income, explore the field, keep college tuition costs manageable and find out if you really enjoy this career enough to further your education in it. And best of all, you will have a marketable skill to fall back on, whether you pursue the career further or not.
For more college and career advice, visit the blogs listed.