Career 101: Finding a Career Field

Inspired by the current state of the economy and job market, this new series of posts will cover the following topics:

  • Finding a Career Field – getting over Peter Pan syndrome and deciding what you want to do when you grow up.
  • Finding the Perfect Job – where to look when everyone else is looking!
  • Landing said Perfect Job – get the competitive edge in this uber-competitive market
  • Keeping said Perfect Job – without living in free of losing your job, quickly move up the chain of command in your new position.

I graduated from high school in the top 10% of my class, enjoyed my classes, had fun learning…no clue what I wanted to major in. Committing to one major consistently lead to hyperventilating…that’s why I’m taking the time to focus on that possibility. You might have already graduated with a bachelors degree AND master’s degree but still don’t feel completely comfortable in your current field. This post is about gaining insight to yourself based on very scientific approaches. 🙂

I knew that I wanted to work flexible hours, I wasn’t always detail oriented, and definitely enjoy thinking outside the box. Before college, I thought Aerospace Engineer was for me. I liked math and science and I was a member of the Aviation Club at my elementary school. I started college, got cold feet, worried I wouldn’t hack the math and declared an Architecture major. That lasted for a semester before I switched to Psychology after an elective class opened my eyes to this introspective career choice. Then I had my daughter and thought, well, can I afford to be in school for at least the next 7 years before making good money in a field that I might not even want to be in, in 7 years? I took a broad range of elective classes, looking for my sweet spot. On a whim I took an intro computer programming class. I had always played around with electronics growing up, taking them apart, fixing them. I was also the resident computer expert. I took the class and aced it (with 100%…) and was hook. It was the perfect field for me and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I may retire and go to culinary school…but for now I <3 it.

Who am I? – During the journey of self-discovery I found the following online resources to help me figure out what I liked, didn’t like and other things to take into consideration. You’re worth it – spend a little extra time now so you can find a position you love.

  • Personality Testmany people are willing to join EHarmony in hopes of finding their perfect match. A career should be NO different, a couple strategic tests can help you identify the following:
    • Have to Have’s – characteristics of the job/career that you HAVE to have in order to enjoy/love/be successful.
    • Can’t Have’s – is it important to you to go to work at 8 and leave at 5, everyday, Monday through Friday? I needed a more flexible work schedule, as a mom and as an ADD-er. Listen to yourself, these are IMPORTANT
    • Nice Have’s – it would be nice to have in the job description but you don’t have to. While Can’ts and Have’s are non-negotiable, this list could help you narrow a close choice or hard decision down.

    NOTE: Make this list now so that when you are job hunting you don’t cater your list to the job you found. This list can change over time but you just like in dating, you don’t want to be blinded by the initial glitter and find yourself trapped in an unhappy job a couple months later.

    The Jung-Meyer-Briggs Personality test is a GREAT place to start. You’ll be amazed at how a simple, short test can accurately depict your personality type. Once you get your results, Google it…mine, consistently is ENFP:

    General: ENFPs are both “idea”-people and “people”-people, who see everyone and everything as part of an often bizarre cosmic whole. They want to both help (at least, their own definition of “help”) and be liked and admired by other people, on both an individual and a humanitarian level. They are interested in new ideas on principle, but ultimately discard most of them for one reason or another.

    Test takes 5-10 minutes…take it! Afterwards, that site will also link you to possible career options and detail type descriptions. Find out what personality types you’re compatible with and more importantly, WHY! It’ll also list famous people with your personality type.

  • Occupation Outlook Handbook
    – although you can buy the printed version of this inclusive career book, DON’T! Search easily online and browse through multiple fields. Search for something specific or browse through numerous jobs – each including the following sections:
    • Nature of Work – detailed job description
    • Training/Qualifications/Opportunities for Advancement – lists job requirements and nice to have’s employers are looking for
    • Employment – details about self-employment, nationwide employment…
    • Job Outlook – are there going to be any positions when you get out of school? Is employment on the rise or fall? Based on statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics…
    • Earnings – average salaries for different positions within that field
    • Related Fields – sounds good but not quite? Lists similar positions within the site.

    Check out sources for the handbook, by state, and also their hints and suggestions about job hunting. I especially liked these questions to ask yourself when evaluating the position before accepting.

You could spend hours, days, months, years pouring over the information in the 2 sections. I think it’s great to take the test every couple of years or re-read about your field. Does it still work for you? Have your tastes changed?

Please also take the time to make the following list and stick it on your mirror or fridge. Make a list of 10 things you HAVE to have in your career, 10 CAN’T haves, and WOULD LIKE to haves. Writing it down will force yourself to think about it. Make the time. Even if you have a job, check the list – it’s it what you still want? Are you in it for the right reasons?

Check back next week for the next postFinding
the Perfect Job.

*FYI – I graduated debt free from college by helping friends and peers through the entire life-cycle of their job search.

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