When we look for jobs – or even when we consider the education that we will need in order to get the job we might want – we have a tendency to consider things like earning potential and employability. If we can be confident of getting a well-paying job, or move into a field in which we can always find a new position, then we’ve gone some way towards tying up a pretty decent future for ourselves. What we don’t always consider is a third, and perhaps more important, aspect: how happy we can be doing a particular job.
While the first two factors are, undoubtedly, important, it is worth thinking for a moment about the decision that you make when you move into a career. For instance, if you are like former member of the U.S. House of Representatives Steve Rothman and want to go into politics, this is liable to be something you will do for years, maybe decades. You will want this career, this job, to be something you can see yourself doing potentially until retirement. If you’re the kind of person who needs outside time, can you do an office job for that long? If you’re someone who enjoys silence, could you really spend the next few decades on a trading floor?
Often, what makes a career really appropriate is not so much the earning potential or the stability of the field, but how it makes you feel when you picture yourself doing it years from now. This is why you should consider the following advice:
If you’re a driven individual, look for leadership
You aren’t going to step out of college straight into a managerial role – at least, you shouldn’t – but if you are someone who thrives on a challenge and gets out of bed looking to take the day by the throat, you need to be considering which jobs and careers offer that path to the top. You should start with an MBA qualification, which will teach you what you need to know about making connections and taking leaps of faith. It will also give you an insight into which businesses will offer you a leadership path early on.
You should know that this path is risky – but leaders don’t shy away from risk. To make a long story short, if you’re going to be a leader within the first ten years of embarking on a career, you might need to take over a department or a business that is struggling to the point of failure. If you can turn one of those around, you can pretty much write your own story from then on.
If you’re empathetic, look for caring roles
Some people in life have the natural tendency to look after others first – that personal feeling that they can’t be at peace if they know others are suffering. While this is a quality that is admired by many, it’s worth being aware that it can be an overwhelming position to be in, because you can never help everybody. However, the job you pick can ensure that you help more people get their own independence back, and this in turn will improve so many lives that you’re making a real difference.
There are a number of ways you can take this: you might map out a career in politics, and seek qualifications in the field, or take a job with a non-profit to build community connections. You might be better suited to taking online nursing degree programs and turning towards a career where you help sick and injured people put their lives back together. Equally, you might consider becoming a counselor or therapist, providing the listening ear and powerful advice that allows people to turn their lives around.
If you’re an introvert, look for jobs where detail matters
The world of work is not set up for introverts, by and large. There’s the application and interview process, where you are asked to sell yourself, a task that makes any introvert’s blood run cold. Then there is the issue of working environments, which are usually designed to fit a maximum number of people into a minimum amount of space; not great if you prefer things quiet. There are some perfect jobs for introverts, though – and no, “monk” isn’t one of them.
The field of research, for example, is one which lends itself to an introvert’s strengths. There is a need for researchers in every employment field, as there are numbers to be broken down, anomalies to be spotted, and conclusions to be drawn in each. The path you take to a job in your chosen area depends very much on the area – but a degree in economics, statistics or sociology can be a very handy place to start.
If you’re looking for a career you can gladly do for the rest of your life, you might look at the earning potential that awaits you. Maybe, however, you’re going to be better off looking at how you fit into the world, and going from there.