A career is a professional occupation that you pursue for a significant period of your life, which often requires special training. It frequently involves a series of advancements and different position titles as well. To enjoy the many waking hours spent at work, it helps you love what you do, respect the people you work with or serve, and share the goals of your employer. Finding a creative flow and sparking innovative output is also important, as is engaging with a larger purpose.
The more you know about yourself, the easier it will be for you to choose and prepare for a well-matched career. In addition to getting the right training or education, you must consider your values, and what is important to you. For instance, do you value creativity or your work environment over financial success? Do you seek a career that provides travel opportunities or one that allows you to spend a lot of time with family? To be happy in a career, your values and priorities should line up as closely as possible with the requirements of a job.
While what matters most in a job depends on the individual, people just starting out in their careers often feel pressured to find their one true calling. This can be counterproductive and close them off to experiences that could be meaningful. It’s generally better to play the long game, prioritizing learning and developing skills that will be valuable later on.
While there is no one right profession, most people are happier when their chosen work aligns with their core values. To discover your core values, look to your role models for clues, try out an online values inventory, consult with a career counselor, and/or spend some time reflecting on your own experiences.
While there are exceptions, generalizing rather than specializing can help you navigate your career, especially early on. The paradox of expertise is that specializing too soon can be detrimental for your career; for every Serena Williams or Steve Wozniak in the world, there are far more people who find success by following their curiosity and developing a wide range of interests and skills.
Psychology often plays a major role in matching people to suitable professions. John Holland’s Occupational Themes, also known as the Holland Codes, identify six vocational personality types: Realistic (Doers), Investigative (Thinkers), Artistic (Creators), Social (Helpers), Enterprising (Persuaders), and Conventional (Organizers). Using these categories, you can explore careers that are a better fit with your personality and values.
Some jobs are well-suited for the super-smart, including physician or surgeon, lawyer, college professor, electrical engineer, researcher, data scientist, IT expert, and materials and design engineer. Of course, not all intelligent people choose to pursue these types of careers, which often require years of additional schooling culminating in an advanced degree and a specialized skill set.
A fulfilling career is a key source of satisfaction in life. The challenge for many is not how to perform well on the job, but how to identify a career at that magical intersection of individual capability and societal demand—for wherever there is market demand for a skill set, fair pay should follow. Some people are satisfied with a job that supports their lifestyle but one that doesn’t necessarily lead to new experiences or the chance for advancement. Many other people, however, eagerly seek out opportunities to develop new skills and find personal and professional growth via their careers.
Start by taking stock of where you are in your career now: what motivates you to work, with whom do you work, and how do you work—the skills and experiences you have accumulated. Using this intelligent career framework, imagine what you want to happen next in your career and work backward to identify the actions that will get you there.
Very. Many people are debilitated by their work due to poor management. Negative workplace experiences tend to lead to increased stress and reduced motivation. It’s not unusual for a career to stall when someone works for a company or a supervisor who doesn’t respect their talents or value employees taking initiative.
It’s true that student loan debts after graduation have been skyrocketing. Nevertheless, the long-term payoff of getting a degree is still many times the cost of college. College graduates also improve their critical thinking, social skills, and aesthetic and intellectual values. They gain a stronger sense of their own identity and a broader perspective on the world.
If you want to ace a job interview, be warm and friendly to put the interviewer at ease. Do your research on the company and on the interviewer; this will demonstrate that you are conscientious, a desirable trait. Show that you’re confident, but be ready to discuss your faults. Have some anecdotes to share, and be respectful of the interviewer’s time.
There are several things to consider when making a career change. First, it’s important that you redefine how you measure success; money may not be the priority at this point in you life. That being said, you do need to have a clear sense of your finances and emotional obligations. It’s important to explore all possibilities before taking the leap.