Step 4: Choose A Career
By now you should have a clue about your passion (what drives you) and your strengths and more important, your major, fundamental strength.
Unfortunately, it’s still not too easy to translate that into a career choice. Take me for an example:
Passion: When I was a child I wanted to become an inventor. I wanted to change the world, make it a bit better. I didn’t realize for a long time but most of the things and projects I’ve ever started had some kind of change and innovation / invention in it. Now that I know, I recognize that the invention, creation part is what I like the most. (Side note: This can also be a weakness if not handled well)
Strength: When I meet people they almost instantly notice a kind of ‘competence’. This now happens because I’ve built on a strength. I am an entrepreneur quintessentially, I live in the moment, I live up to the version I want to be. Back in school, new teachers already noticed the underlying fundamental strength, which is keen perception and good analytical & technical skills. It rarely took me long to understand and combine things.
Basically, I was a sharp kid who wanted to change the world. But all this analyzing did not at all help me with my career choice. Because there wasn’t a university course on changing the world.
Maybe you already got a pretty good picture of your career choice. Or maybe you are more like I was, a bit puzzled.
There are 3 options that could now apply to you:
- You’re still puzzled because you can’t relate your passion and strength to a career path
- You got a focus but no concrete path
- You already know what you’re going to do
Whatever applies to you, we’ll get you covered – don’t worry.
Evaluate Career Choices
With your knowledge about your passion and strengths, it’s time to translate that knowledge in a few (more) career choices. The broader your strength is, the more will be avaiable. If you are like most of us, you’ll probably still have a hundred things you could do. So it’s time to evaluate your choices (see what’s really for you and what’s not). Lucky you that I’ve got a magic bullet:
In ‘Lean Management‘ I already broached the ‘lean’ concept. If you know about the concept of ‘lean startup’, you are already familiar with the ‘minimum viable product’. If not, a MVP is simply the simplest version of a product you want to create. The concept of lean startup says that you should enter the market with a MVP and then evolve in direct cooperation with your customers. One advantage: If the MVP is not working, you are not loosing too much money and you’re still capable of big changes as you’re in early-stage development.
Let’s apply this concept to you, the ‘You Inc.’
The MVP of the You Inc. must be low-committing like an internship or traineeship.
Means: Test out the different career experiences you are interested in, in the most low commitment way that you could for each option.
How? Find companies you’d like to work for and individuals whose career paths you admire, and then reach out to them to see if you can shadow with them (follow a person around in their job) for an afternoon, a day, or a week. Try informational interviews, volunteering, even internships, and more. And don’t be surprised when they say yes, or even if many of these experiences lead to job offers—without you even asking for them.
You will be surprised how easily approachable, open, and helpful most people are. Cold emailing has become perfectly normal, saying “I saw you on Twitter and thought you seemed interesting, so I wanted to reach out.” This is the first time in history that people’s career interests and hobbies are listed online and are easily searchable—and it’s an amazing opportunity to create your own network beyond just the people you meet in person.
What else? Join communities and groups that might help evaluating your choices. Volunteer at conferences and events. Network with people, learn from their experience. More than ever, we live in a social world. Once you’ve identified what it is that you love, get busy on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, connecting with people who share your areas of interest. Read blogs, join forums, and find out what it’s really like to do what you love.
I’ve read a lot about this and talked to even more people. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to this. I can help you with narrowing down the choices, finding the right one is your job.
Start Saving Money
This seems to be a bit misplaced here but I think it’s not. We are currently talking about a lot of experimenting. Personally, it took me 3 years of massive experimenting before I had enough clarity to really start a career. It makes sense that you secure your financial survival during this time. Either through a (side-)job or through savings. Best-case would be both. Which means that you should start saving today. Put money aside. Prepare for rainy days.
Now straight on to the last part.