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University Life Café


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What Will I Do With My Life?

By KSU Counseling Services Staff

We're supposed to figure this out in college, right? What if I'm halfway through college and I still don't know the answer! Help!

Many of us believe that this question should be answered once in a lifetime and that once we figure it out, we never have to think about it again! The reality of our world today is that we will ask that question many times in our lives. Career decision making is no longer a "one-time event" and is more of a process than an outcome. As our personal and work needs change, each of us will evaluate career choices many times. We may revise and change career plans and directions several times in our life, as well as change individual jobs!

How do I answer this question? Try to learn a system of career decision-making that can be used whenever you need it and that will help direct you in making effective choices as you develop your career path.

Here are some common questions that students have about careers:

Is there just one career that's best for me?

NO. There are many careers that are a good fit for any one person. NO career is perfect and most will require some compromise between person and career.
Many people find that the most appropriate careers for us tend to have common features. Perhaps they emphasize promoting and selling, helping others, problem-solving, working with information or theories. Try to consider a variety of occupations that share common features, all of which you would probably enjoy, rather than trying to focus entirely on the one fictitious "best."

Is it true that nearly half of K-State graduates end up in careers different from their majors?

YES. Our interests change. The job market changes. Some careers and jobs become obsolete and other interesting fields open up. Many people realize, after working for awhile, that careers affect lifestyles, so they make changes in order to satisfy their lifestyle needs and wants.

Will I really have two or three (or even more) different careers?

That's what the experts are saying. Interests change and new careers are developing all of the time. This allows you to choose a career to begin after graduation, but also to know that you'll be able to change as new interests and opportunities emerge.

Should I choose a major or career area that guarantees employment?

No major or career can guarantee employment upon graduation. Opportunities in every career change overtime. The job outlook is very difficult to predict and the employment picture for three or four years down the road is even more difficult! There are reliable sources of information on employment trends and predictions that the Career & Employment Services office can provide, and the U.S. Dept of Labor has great data about job trends at http://www.bls.gov/ Use these resources rather than relying on hearsay or advice from friends. Because it is impossible to predict where the jobs will be, it is important to try to identify the broad career areas that appeal to us and that we can be successful in.

How do I know what I would be good at?

There are many resources available to help you identify your skills and interests. The Academic & Career Information Center and Counseling Services both offer a variety of assessments that can help you identify your strengths and skills. No assessment can take all the information that is important to your career development and tell you what jobs you can do or where you would be happiest. Career tests can, however, help you to understand your interests and skills and identify further areas for exploration. Each of us has many skills that we can bring to a job, some we learn at college, and some we have learned from our general life experiences. Understanding your strengths can assist you in choosing jobs that play to those strengths.

So, what do I do with my life? Try reframing the question as – What can I learn about myself to help me choose a first career? You might consider making an appointment with one of the offices mentioned above to discuss your concerns. The better you understand your values, interests and skills, the more likely you are to choose a job or a career that fits your personal style.

Adapted from Making Choices About You and Your Career, by Rebecca A. Sanderson, Ph.D. Carol Jauquet, Ph.D., and staff from Counseling Services, Kansas State University.

© All staff articles are used by permission of the respective author(s). Copyright belongs to the University Life Café. No part of this may be used without authorization.

What Will I Do With My Life? (pdf)