“What are you going to be when you grow up?” is a question we often hear as children. As kids, we love to think about how we’ll be astronauts, doctors, police officers, or dancers. Then as we go through the school system, we are expected to figure out the answer to that age-old question by the time we get to college and declare our majors.
But what if you are past your college days and still trying to figure it out? Perhaps you did declare a major and now the career path you chose in your late teens/early twenties is no longer exciting or fulfilling. Or maybe you’ve recently spent time home with your family and going back to the same career isn’t what’s best for you or them. So as a bonafide adult, how do you figure it out again? Here are 3 strategies to use to determine what to be when you “grow up”:
Find your aligned skillset.
An aligned skillset is that list of your strengths that you also feel good doing. To find your aligned skillset, first list out everything that you’re good at. For some, this may be a difficult task, but it is vital to the process! To make this step easier, ask others what they think you’re good at and/or look at previous performance reviews. Second, reflect on when you feel your best at work and write these down as well. Finally, match the skills you needed in each feel-good moment, and you have your aligned skillset!
Do the honest work.
Take your aligned skillset and start doing your research! For this strategy, Google will be your friend in finding out which jobs and/or industries most value these skills. Enter these keyword searches into a job posting site to get ideas. Through your research, you should find out what education, training, and experience are necessary for this job. Now for the honesty part – ask yourself if you are able and/or willing to do what it takes to get the job. Is it possible to back to college, or would a certification program be better? If you have to take an entry-level role first to get more experience, can do you this from a financial perspective? This step is not to deter you from pursuing a new job but rather help you plan the “when” and “how” to get there.
Get first-hand experience.
Before committing time, energy, and possible money towards a new career goal, find out if the job/industry is truly right for you. To do this, find actual people who are currently in your desired job and network with them. You can do this by asking friends if they know anyone or reaching out on LinkedIn. Offer to buy them coffee and pick their brains for an hour. You’d be pleasantly surprised how many people are open to meeting for a free cup of coffee! If you can, find a person or company who would be willing to have you shadow the job. Your goal is to understand if the job on paper is just as exciting in real life.
By taking the time to do some research and reflection, you’ll not only be more informed about a potent