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What Can You Do with Your Life After College?

You may have picked your major based on a dream job in mind. But through the course of your studies or shifts in the market, that career path may no longer of interest or in-demand.

Or maybe you picked your major based on pressure from your parents or your vision about it making you rich. Now that subject matter is the last thing you want to commit 40-plus hours a week to.

A study from CareerBuilder found nearly half (47%) of college-educated workers said their first job after college was not related to their college major, and 32% of college-educated workers reported they could not find a job related to their college major. So, don’t fret. You’re not alone.

Reflect on It

To figure out the next steps in your career journey, start with some soul-searching. Take your major out of the equation initially and ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • What are my abilities and strengths?
  • What are my strongest personality traits?
  • What type of work environments (independent or team) do I thrive in?

Business Insider’s “7 Steps to Take When You Don’t Know What to Do with Your Life After College” suggests jotting down job tasks that you enjoy and those you don’t, as well as what is most important to you about a job to give you a starting point for what may be a satisfying career.

Consider additional education. Graduate school, certification courses, seminars or online programs are opportunities to explore new interests. Be reasonable about how you can start a new career with the education you have. While management may be your passion, starting as an executive assistant may be what gets your foot in the door.

Set Goals

Use the acronym SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) to set goals. Be specific by using quantities in your goals, like “make three networking connections each week.” By doing this, it makes the goal measurable as well. Be sure the goal is attainable or else you won’t be motivated to reach it. And you’ll want it to be relevant to your overall career aspirations. Define the time (such as “each week” or “by May 1”) to give your actions urgency. Some additional tips:

  • Write down the steps that will help you get to your career goal, and post it where you’ll see it often.
  • Set deadlines, and then write the date next to each step as you complete it.
  • Reward yourself every time you complete a step to help you stay motivated.
  • Ask a friend, coworker or mentor to help hold you accountable.

Research Jobs and Industries

Thinking about what you want to do and setting goals to get there will only go so far. You must act on it! The only way you know if you’re going to enjoy your future career path is by getting immersed in it. Conducting research on jobs and industries that closely match what you’ve discovered about yourself after reflection should give you a few paths to consider. Then, jump in! Research is as simple as following people on Twitter in the profession, subscribing to industry magazines or online journals or watching a TED Talk by someone in the field, according to PayScale’s “Just Spent an Obscene Amount of Money on College and Still Don’t Know What to Do with Your Life? Read This.”

To take your research to the next level, seek out respected individuals in careers you’re considering and conduct informational interviews. This not only helps you build a connection in the space but allows you to gain valuable insight into what the career could look like for you.

If you put the time and effort into discovery and research, then hold yourself accountable to take actionable steps, a satisfactory career path may form in your near future.

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