Think about your future career field as a long-term relationship. Whether you are newly dating and still feeling out the relationship or you and your career are like an old married couple, you should always have set goals to achieve in your relationship together. Below I have outlined 3 major stages of your career “dating relationship” that you should complete before choosing that one career to spend the rest of your life with.
RULE #1: Play the field– Job shadowing is the, “we’ve been on a few dates and are still feeling out what’s going on” stage of your career. The purpose of job shadowing is to decide which career field most interests you, even if it does not fit into the exact field of the degree you went to college for. This is the time where you attend lots of career fairs, network with lots of professionals and do a lot of LinkedIn company searches; think of this as looking at someone you met at a party on Friday night’s Facebook profile to see if you have anything else in common besides that mutual friend who invited you both to the same party.
RULE #2: Tell your friends – Internships are the, “newly dating, still feeling out the relationship and may or may not be Facebook official” stage of your career. This is the part of your career where you want to start telling your friends about your work and what you are doing to help promote yourself in the career field of your choice. It may not be all over your social media networks for you friends to see, but your closest friends and family have probably overheard you talking about what you’re doing in your internship that interests you the most. That’s how you know this career field is one you should consider keeping and making an “official career” choice path.
RULE #3: Put a ring on it – Choosing a career field is the “married life and they lived happily ever after” stage of your career. By this time you should have “played the field” enough to find that this career path is a good match for your personality, talents and values; ideally, a career path that won’t end in divorce and heartbreak. There should be an equal amount of chemistry between your love for the job and your challenges with it, which will only help you to grow in your career and in life.
After considering these 3 rules, I leave you with this advice: Don’t be discouraged if you’ve had bad internship experience (“dating relationships,”) there’s a career out there meant just for you and one day, you will find it!