Choosing A Career

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Amelia Mendes, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Approximately two weeks ago, I was filling out the last of my college applications, when I once again came across the dreaded question that has been known to provoke existential crises among seniors— “What is your intended major.” Translation: “What are you planning to do for the rest of your life?” Now, I don’t know about you, but as a wee seventeen year old, it doesn’t feel like I should already be considering major life decisions that could determine the course of my existence, but that’s just me. This got me wondering about how people, in general, go about choosing a career and how my current peers felt about their not-so-far-away futures.

After doing a little bit of research, I found that 64% of Green Hope students had a general notion of what careers they wanted to pursue. In addition to this, there were four main motivations and factors that heavily influenced what made people inclined to go into certain fields.

1) Primarily, many people were influenced by what their parents studied or by what their parents wanted their children to study. At first, I was skeptical, as I personally have never had any interest in my parents’ fields of work and my parents have never actively advocated for a specific career. However, this does make sense from an objective standpoint. You often naturally already have a clear understanding of what the nuances of your parents’ careers entail. This can make entering said career an easy decision, as you are not venturing into the unknown. In regards to choosing the career that your parents want you to pursue, it can initially carry negative connotations, depicting teenagers and young adults as too lazy to think for themselves. In reality though, this is somewhat reasonable. Who knows you better than the people who have lived with you for your entire time on this earth? Who also has extensively more experience, having been a part of the workforce since before you were born? If you’re completely lost about what you want to study, listening to your parents could point you in the right direction.

2) Another significant factor in people’s career paths were their personal passions— pursuing what they love for a living. I was impressed by the courage of these individuals who genuinely want to venture into the workforce in search of a job they love. In theory, if you love your work, it’s not really work. Although this may sound like some idyllic fantasy, some are determined to make it a reality. Not to say that this doesn’t come with its challenges. It’s often rare that your passion will be accompanied by a large paycheck.

3) Other people have chosen their intended careers based on their perceptions of what their society needs right now. I can’t help but applaud these noble individuals. When you think about it in a larger sense, it is these people who ultimately propel civilization forward, taking an encompassing look at our world, determining what is currently in demand, and devoting themselves to fulfilling this need. If you’re uncertain as to what career would bring you happiness, maybe you’re calling is bringing happiness to others.

4) By now, you’ve probably already guessed what this final factor is—money, money, money. If people don’t know of a passion that they think they could reasonably pursue as a career, or if they prioritize financial security and maybe taking a vacation once in while, they’ll follow the green. If this sounds like you, do some research on some of the higher paying jobs and what the educational requirements entail. This doesn’t mean that you’re going the Michael Douglas “greed is good” route. You can always pursue your passions outside of work and be a philanthropist through donating.

Alright, so we’ve explored what influences other people to pursue their careers, but what can we do now, at this stage in our lives, to get a better idea of what kind of career we want? Well, I think the first step is to visualize. Take some time to clear your head and do a little daydreaming about where you’d like to see yourself in ten years. You don’t need to have all the specifics, but think about what details you do want. Maybe start by picturing where you’re sitting (and “by the pool” is not a valid answer). Are you at a desk? Are you presenting to your coworkers? Does your job require that you travel? What kind of work are you doing? Are you working with numbers or is your work more right-brained? Are you working with other people or are you in your own lane? What does your life look like outside of work? What do your ideal expenses look like? What kind of car do you drive? Where do you live? Knowing your preferences can help you realize your priorities and narrow down what kind of job you want with what kind of pay. 

In the end, the day you find yourself staring blankly into a bright computer screen, sucker-punched by the words “intended major”, and realize that LIFE is no longer just a board game you used to play when you were little, you need not succumb to fear. The career that is right for you, your priorities, and your preferences is out there. It won’t be an easy journey, as you will only get out what you put in, but it is within reach. Even if you currently find your mouse scrolling down to the “undecided” option, or if you still are unsure by graduation, there’s no urgent need to panic. The first two years of college are relatively the same regardless of what career you ultimately pursue and if you’re ever scared that you made the wrong decision, it’s not out of the question to *gasp* change your major. Just take this as a wake up call to start thinking about career options and by the time you need to make a decision, you’ll be more than ready.