Discovering your career

Defining Your Career Path

Four steps to creating a career path that you can be passionate about.

Choosing a career path can seem daunting. Your next decision about an internship or entry level job can drastically change your career trajectory, so the pressure is on.. right? 

The good news is: you don’t have to deal with that pressure. Not if you take a few steps early on to clearly define what you’re looking for and how you’ll achieve it.

By now, you might have a career goal or two in mind. We’re going to walk you through the process of executing those goals to help make career decisions that are right for you.

Identify your passion(s)

The correlation between pursuing your passion and overall happiness certainly exists. However, focusing on one passion can limit your opportunities. Why not have two (or more)?

Many students feel the pressure of choosing one major, career, or passion. And this is understandable—it’s hard picking just one!

By defining several passions, you’re not only learning more about yourself—you’re future-proofing your potential. You’re also expanding the scope of your transferable skills and building a wealth of knowledge that will help you stand out to employers.

Find potential opportunities

Your next step should be to visit your on-campus career services center and/or career advisor. You might be surprised at the variety of resources offered, including career fairs, shadowing opportunities, workshops, seminars, and more. If you schedule time with your career services center, make sure you’re prepared.

Follow through

Once you’ve found a few opportunities that align with your passions, get ready to reach out, seek advice, and network! Consider a few paid internships, temporary positions, shadowing opportunities or part-time jobs to gain experience.

Handshake has thousands of no and low-experience-required opportunities you can peruse to start. If you’ve filled out your profile with your career interests and skills, you might even spot a notification from an employer or recruiter interested in you. If you need some extra help with that interview, career services can help out with that too!

Answer some important questions

Once you’re stepping on the grounds to a newly paved path, you’ll want to carefully consider if the career you’ve chosen feels like the right choice.

  • Is the culture a good fit?
  • Do you see yourself in the field long-term (more than a year or two)?
  • Does the work-life balance fall in line with your personal needs?
  • Are there opportunities for career growth?

And although salary is an important factor to consider, it may not equal happiness. A recent study suggests that happiness peaks at a $54,000 salary in Miami, the city with the largest gap between pay and living costs in the US.

Commit or rebuild

If you’ve fallen in love with what you do, then visualize what comes next. But if something just wasn’t right about the field—that’s ok! The benefit of doing this exercise early means you have time to rebuild and find the career that will make you happy.