As the saying goes, if you do what you love than it won’t feel like work. I took that literally and majored in Natural Resources for my bachelor’s degree because I loved the outdoors. I thought if I could work in the outdoors and teach people about the natural beauty that it would be the perfect job. After graduation when I started my dream career I quickly realized that certain things should be left as a hobby. On top of spending time outdoors all the time – in the snow, rain, and frost; the environmental field was plagued with job instability and low wages. Since my husband is a Forester for the USDA Forest Service, my mom gave me the best advice. She said to pick a more universal profession. The second best advice I received was it doesn’t matter what career you pick because if you’re good at it than you will enjoy it. This is why my switch from the environmental to the business world was successful. I wound up being good at managing a business and didn’t ever think about returning to the environment field.
Here are three things to keep in mind when searching for your perfect career.
Pick your major and/or future profession based on an actual job path
I can’t tell you how many people I have known who majored in Art or Psychology and are doing something completely different now. While they are extremely interesting and fulfilling majors in college, they usually don’t turn into a career path, unless you’re exceptionally talented or are prepared to spend a lot more time in school. Pick a major and a career that you could spend time doing but also something that has actual job opportunities when you get out.
Don’t be scared to switch
In college I wasn’t positive that my major was my ideal path but I was too scared to switch because of the money my parents had already spent. This is where I would probably have benefited from trying classes outside of my major. Also, one thing I did do well was having the guts to switch jobs that I no longer found fulfilling. Each new job opportunity has helped me advance my career and skills to much higher levels than if I stayed at the same position. Not all job switches were instantly higher paychecks, but all jobs wound up to be higher paychecks and titles after a bit of time.
To be good at your job it takes time and hard work
This goes a little against my above mention of not being afraid to switch, but it’s also important to be patient. Being new at a job is tough. The first year at a new job is the toughest. Everything’s new and the learning curve can be harsh. But it’s important to be patient and keep trying. My last position led to an Executive Director role at age thirty only because I stayed through the tough times and worked my butt off. I gave up many nights with friends, loved ones, and vacations because of work. While you always hear that on death beds people regret not spending more time doing the exact things I gave up, I’m not sure if that saying is relevant for the early part of your career. You need to devote time and energy to learn and to get ahead. After some time in your role you can relax and take advantage of more flexibility that allows you to do the really important things in life.