For high school students, college students, recent grads and practically anyone who wants to find a new career, there are many ways to research an industry before committing to the necessary training and education. After all, it's hard to know if a certain career is going to be a good fit for you. Of course, there are some people who are lucky enough to know what they want to do early on. Often, it's something that they are especially passionate about or something that they have a talent for. For the rest of us, choosing a career can be confusing.
One of the best ways to find out more about a certain career path is to try it on and find out if it's the right fit for you. Here are several ways that you can try on a new career:
Look for community programs. Depending on the career field you're interested in, there may be community organizations that can help you find out more. For example, most areas have 4H programs that can give you valuable information about agricultural careers. Also, you can look at your local Parks and Recreation programs and find hobby classes and other programs that can let you try out skills that relate to different jobs.
Check into work-study programs. If you're a student, there may be work-study programs that allow you to spend a portion of your day working in a field you're interested in. Organizations like DECA and FBLA often offer these work-study options. As an added plus, you are usually paid for the work you do, giving you the chance to earn money while you try out a career.
Consider an internship. Internships, whether they're paid or un-paid, can be a great way to try out a career and find out if it's the right choice for you. Although you'll probably be given an entry-level position, you'll have the chance to really see if the career is a good fit. Internships aren't just for college students, although they are the most common. If you're really interested in getting an internship but aren't a student, you should still apply.
Network with people in the industry - The internet can really help you find out more about a chosen career. For example, you can network with other professionals using Nexxt's Career Network. Find people who are working in your desired industry and ask them about the skills you would need for the job and what their jobs entail. You'll find that most professionals would be happy to give you as much information as they can. Don't be afraid to ask, everyone was just starting out at some point.
Go on an occupational interview. An occupational interview is sort of like a job interview. After contacting a professional who is working in the industry, you simply set up a time to visit them at work and find out more about what they do. Before an occupational interview, you'll want to write out a list of questions to make sure that you don't forget any.
Look at part-time jobs. It may be possible to find a part-time job working in the industry you're interested in. Although these jobs may not be the exact job you'll want, they can give you a new perspective on the career.
Try job shadowing. Job shadowing is a fairly new concept. Basically, you find a professional and spend a day following them around in order to learn more about what their day is like. Most job-shadowing programs only last for a day or two, but they can give you some valuable information.
Try temporary work. If you work with a temp agency, they will most likely test your skills and look for short-term jobs that would be right for you. If you're interested in working in an office or using your secretarial and data-entry skills, a temporary job will let you try them out in a variety of situations. It's a great way to earn some money and decide what you're passionate about.
Volunteer to work in the industry. Volunteering is always a great idea and, if you can find related volunteer work, you'll get a head start on getting relevant work experience. Volunteering can transform your life and help you find what you're passionate about. Programs like Americorps will give you the chance to work in various settings where you're helping others and can help you decide on your career path.
If you aren't sure that a career is right for you, there are many ways that you can try on a job. The most important thing is to be enthusiastic and determined. You'll never know unless you give it a try.
How did you choose a career path? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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