With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, the idea of love is everywhere: commercials on TV, top photos on Instagram – even the grocery store seems overcome by red balloons and boxes of chocolates. We’ve decided, however, to focus our efforts on a slightly different version of love: the love of life and, with that, the love of your livelihood. Loving what you do for a living is incredibly important and, for students, there is no better time in your life to get started on the right path!
Determine a General Direction
You might be thinking, “I’m young – I don’t need to map out my entire career now!”…and you’re absolutely right. With that being said, figuring out where your interests lie can put you on the right path from the start. Determine what you enjoy and explore how you can fit that into your future. Does the mere thought of cracking open a biology textbook leave you feeling like you’ve floated up to Cloud 9? Take a few related courses and see what types of career options are out there. Talk with someone at career services or an academic advisor and gain their insights. Who knows – maybe your passion for vintage comic books really can become a full time job (eventually).
Make Sure it’s a “Match”
A company’s culture and values can be a key factor that determines how much you enjoy (or don’t enjoy) your job. You could be a perfect fit for the position you’re going for, but if you can’t mesh with the culture in the office or what the company stands for, it’s likely you’ll be unhappy. Research online what type of environment the workplace is and what types of causes the company supports.
If possible, sneak a peek around the office after your interview. Take the opportunity to see how people dress, work, and interact with one another. If you need silence in order to concentrate, you probably won’t like the chaos and noise of a more hectic office space. If you spend your weekends rallying to better the environment, an office that flies through styrofoam cups and doesn’t seem to care much about recycling might not be your cup of tea.
Evaluate Your Experiences
After you’ve finished working at a job or after your internship is complete, take time to reflect on what you liked and didn’t like – both about the position and about the company. Keep a list so that when you apply in the future, you can better direct yourself. If your last job reinforced how much you liked working in a fast-paced environment, focus your efforts on similar companies and industries.
Think Big Picture
Nowadays, students and recent grads can’t exactly be picky when it comes to their internship or job selections. There is a chance you could end up at a company that isn’t a perfect match or that you could find yourself in a position you know you’re too qualified for. With bills to pay and student loans to take care of, sometimes the perfect job gets replaced by the available job. This is when “the big picture” becomes most important.
The summer after my sophomore year, I was offered an internship in New York. The catch? Not only was it unpaid, I would have to pay a lot of money to commute in and out of the city everyday. I tried to rationalize it by focusing on all the “skills” and “experience” I would gain, but I ended up taking a less exciting position elsewhere. Halfway through the summer, I realized the position I was in was helping me work towards my post-grad goals just as much as the glamorous internship in the city would have. Sure, I wasn’t trotting through downtown Manhattan every morning, but I also had a lot more money in my pocket come August.
Think of these positions as “stepping-stones” to where you want to go, rather than road blocks.
How did you end up on the track you are on? What shaped your decisions?
As always, tweet us @BNcollege or comment below with your thoughts!