Ah, summer. The time for beaches, sunscreen, and job hunting. If you’re a recent college graduate, you’re probably churning out cover letter after cover letter these days. If you are currently in college, a general career path should be on your mind. Nothing in life is completely predictable, but a little planning also never hurt.
Not sure what you want to do? You’re not alone. While career aptitude tests often focus on skills and interests, there are some criteria to consider that might not be mentioned on that test sheet. Here are four questions to guide you that not every career counselor will ask but that can be helpful.
1. Do you want the option to freelance or are you more comfortable in a steady day job?
Freelancing can be liberating for some people and crippling for others. It all depends on your self-motivation. Are you the kind of person who can make deadlines without a boss checking on you? Can you network and market yourself well? Both qualities are crucial to being a successful freelancer. Freelancers run up against challenges that people working day jobs don’t have to face such as doing their own billing and paying for their own health insurance. On the other hand, freelancers can take their careers in the direction that they choose, not a path that a boss chooses for them. Are you unsure which you’d prefer? Then consider a career path that will allow you to do both. For example, technical writers have the option to work for themselves or for a company. They can choose between a steadier paycheck with less freedom or more freedom and less stability. Web development also gives you both options. Some careers, like journalism, can be difficult to do unless you’re a freelancer. So do some thinking and some research.
2. Do you care more about the location or industry than the exact job?
Maybe you can see yourself doing just about any task as long as you’re surrounded by theater or film or books. Maybe you’re determined to live in New York or LA and will do any job to make it happen. If that describes you, consider a job that is applicable to every industry. For example, every company needs accountants. If you’re good at numbers, you can enter just about any company and do work in it. Publishing, film, real estate, tech, you name it. They all need accountants. Working in human resources also allows for this flexibility of companies. Consider this as you plan out your career path.
3. What is your take on homework?
Would you mind taking work home with you or not? Are you comfortable checking emails after work? If you have to work overtime, must you spend that time at the office? Schoolteachers and professors do huge amounts of work outside the school buildings grading papers and planning lessons. Consider that if you want to be a teacher. Does the company use technologies only available in the office? If that is the case, you may work overtime, but you’ll keep work at work. Which do you want?
4. Do you prefer to move around or to sit at a desk?
Some jobs require much more movement than others. Teachers and doctors often get up and walk around while lecturing to students or examining patients. An office worker will be at her desk most of the day. Which do you prefer? These “movement jobs” often require you to be a people person. Managing a retail store involves talking to customers. Teachers and doctors talk to people all day. Can you handle constant social interaction or are your people skills more limited?
These are four considerations to take very seriously. If your career counselor doesn’t mention them, bring these questions up yourself. She’ll be thrilled to give advice from a new perspective.