“I don’t know what else is out there since I’ve only ever been in one type of job after graduation. What am I missing out on that I don’t even know about?”
“You know what though. I actually enjoy my job too, I enjoy helping people every day but I don’t know if this is the only career path I should pursue. And if this is the best career path for me?”
I hear or read people say this — or statements like this — which points out that Career FOMO is a real thing; the fear of missing out on wondering what other careers there are.
For the modern 20 something there are so many career options out there that didn’t even exist 10 years ago.
In fact, the average millennial changes their job every three to four years. If you hypothetically extend that trend to the time someone retires around their early 60s, then that’d be 15-20 jobs!
The older generation frowns on the idea of job hopping, but how the heck do you find out what you like or don’t like if you don’t do this?
Unless, that is, you’re one of the lucky ones that knew from a young age what you wanted to do with your life.
All right, if you don’t want to job hop at the moment and would like to test out the waters on other careers or even interests you’d like to pursue, here’s my advice:
1. Identify an interest and pursue it in your free time first.
For example, I was working with a client (let’s call him Tim) who was considering a career change, and we looked at specific causes that he’s really into. Tim realized that he’s passionate about LGBT issues and wanted to make that a larger part of his life. Therefore, Tim decided to venture into volunteer work for LGBT organizations.
2. Talk to people in the other careers you are curious about.
I know it’s so agonizingly easy to get lost in hours and hours of research of what a career would look like and feel like, but honestly your best measuring stick is to ask someone already in that career you are curious about.
For example, if you want to explore a career doing marketing for a sports team. Find someone that you know who either does that type of role right now or find someone who knows someone that is in that type of role. Also, the Linkedin Alumni tool is a great resource to find people in your network to help you in your quest for more truth.
3. Find a way to shadow someone in a career you are interested in.
In addition to talking to a person working in a career that catches your interest, you could ask them if you can shadow them for a few hours, or even a day.
Obviously, this requires more planning and seriousness. But if you are up for it, it doesn’t hurt to ask. It’s like going back to the days in college where you’d ask to see a day in someone’s working life.
4. Take free courses on the subject.
Now, there are places like Udemy and Coursera where you can get your hands on almost any subject you can think of, from specific marketing skills to machine learning to learning excel spreadsheets.
If you enjoy going through the material, then it could be a good gauge on whether it’s something you would like doing day to day. Furthermore, it may help you understand if you need to get additional education to transition to a new career path (which is not always the case).
Exploring these four options helps you get out your preconceived assumptions by engaging with other sources of information: your experiences, other people’s experiences, and curriculum (if applicable).
Sometimes in our head, we make things out to be an idealized version of something. Which it might be just like we imagined. Or it might be completely different from what we thought.
That’s why we should dip our toes in to see if we are really missing out, or if we weren’t missing out in the first place.