Ask yourself the tough questions about what career you really want
At least one student is returning to college this week feeling as certain as one can that he picked the right major.
No, he didn't take a test during the summer that told him his personality was a match made in heaven for business. And he didn't take an online quiz that asks questions like, “Would you rather be on the debate team or in the math club?” then voila, displays the perfect major.
He talked to his parents, then me, about the fact that he was drowning in certain classes crucial to his previously declared major in engineering. His most important revelation: “My heart's not in it.”
With way too much worry about the future on the face of this 20-year old, he told me, “I don't want to be one of those people who doesn't like what they're doing 10 years from now.”
His father was concerned that he hadn't lived long enough to have evidence of what he enjoyed and did well. But you can be 20 or 50 years old and the right questions and objective probing reveal what you know deep down inside.
Then off he went on a mission I assigned him: Find out what it's really like to work in various aspects of business, a direction he wanted to consider.
Like most people, he had flawed ideas. He thought “accounting and finance are just sitting there writing stuff down all day.” He thought people worked only in big companies.
He thought everyone knew from the minute they could talk what they wanted and never strayed.
After he met with one person, he came back bubbling with information and excitement.
That's just one opinion, I told him. Get more.
He returned to describe a man who has the “kind of day I want to have.”
Talk to more people, I said. Ask what they wished they had known. Ask about their best and worst days and what it takes to be great at this work.
He discovered that another person started out in a totally different direction. He found out about business restructuring and bankruptcy that “sounded depressing,” pros and cons of small firms and large companies, and paths people took to get to where they are now.
He learned how some people grew to love their work and why others changed directions.
We scrutinized everything. I asked him to compare that to what we discovered about his interests and what excites him.
I made him think through and explain why he ruled out some directions and not others. I made him go home and research a few things, then come back and tell me what he thought.
“What do you still need to know?” I asked him.
Although I don't typically share personal contacts with clients, he had proven he could be professional. So I sent him to an executive I know in a consulting firm who would help complete the picture.
He had one last meeting. This conversation expanded his thinking and opened a door to a possible internship.
This process of asking the right questions and analyzing “made me more confident,” he told me. “I'm not just jumping into something now.”
He is developing a habit that will ensure a promising career — to never rely on anyone but yourself to know what's best for you.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh’s tech startup activity rates last of 40 metro areas in report
- After years of downsizing, big houses make comeback
- New J.C. Penney CEO comes from middle-income America
- Floating homes offer ‘affordable’ option in San Francisco area
- How to land that 1st job after college
- Truffle dogs sniff out pungent fungus prized by foodies
- Corporate America speaking out on social issues, getting results
- McDonald’s localizes menus to battle growing competition
- Importance stressed of securing your online banking
- Airlines offer small conveniences to counter higher fees, less space
- Halliburton to close Indiana County office