In high school, the pressure to decide on a future career or major gets higher and higher. The time when you have to figure out what sort of profession you want gets smaller with each passing year. At some point, you might not know what you are going to do in college and potentially after. The pressure can become great, and struggling with the biggest questions in life like: “Who do I want to be?” or “What are my talents?” or “What do I want to do for the rest of my life?” can overwhelm you easily. However, this is when choosing how you respond to this mounting pressure matters the most. Tackling the hardest questions honestly and thoroughly will give direction to your life. Working in a profession that you find interesting can give greater meaning than working in a profession you find boring. However, where do you start, and how can you get there?
The first part of planning your future career is deciding what career you want by answering hard questions. What are you good at? What do you enjoy? What do you want from your job? What kind of life do you want to live? Maybe you have an affinity for robotics, engineering, history, the humanities, or sometimes you just don’t have a clue. If you don’t know what you are passionate about, find out what you are good at. We tend to love what we are good at and despise what we aren’t. Maybe you don’t know what you are passionate about or good at. If that’s the case, you’re probably not trying hard enough. Ruminate on these questions, but remember, these are tough questions, so take your time to figure it out, but don’t run away from these questions and really try to answer them. Everyone has something that they either like or are better at than the other. But if you truly don’t know what you’re passionate about or what you enjoy, explore the ins and outs of different careers. Figure out the pay, the requirements, the time. Do you want to be in medical school for 4 years? Do you think you will enjoy law school? Will your career pay for the lifestyle you want? The key is that if you really don’t know what you want, just choose. If the career and major seem solid, don’t be afraid to stick with it even if you aren’t 100% sure. We are often too afraid of making an incorrect decision to make one in the first place. Remember, you can always change your major in college.
The next part, after choosing a profession, is to plan immediately. This means breaking out pen and paper and sketching the path. What major do you need? Does your career require graduate school? Is there a particular test you have to pass? Does your career require you to have extracurriculars in college? What kind of major do you need? Ask as many questions as you can about your future career and try to solve them. Then try to organize your goals from highschool to college and, if necessary, up to graduate school. The point of this is knowing what you have to do to achieve your career. If it means scoring high on a standardized test, plan to begin studying your freshman year. If you need volunteer experience to get into a graduate school, plan to attend extracurriculars in college. It's also essential that you consult your counselor. They can answer most of your questions and sketch out a path of classes for you to take to acquire your major. Knowing what career you want is the first step; knowing what to do to get there is equally important.
Lastly, adjust your plan. Maybe you figured out your dream career midway through a major, or maybe you’ve realized that the profession you want to pursue isn’t all nice as it seems. If that’s the case, it’s okay to quit your major and choose another one. If you’re lucky, the classes you studied in your old major can still qualify for your new one. However, don’t quit pursuing a profession just because the classes are too hard. If it’s a profession you really want, don’t be disheartened if the process gets difficult. Figure out a way to study more efficiently or balance your time. However, if you develop new interests and passions that don’t align with your chosen major or if you can’t imagine yourself working in your future career, it’s time to change. Don’t be afraid of wasting the work you put in your previous major. Be afraid of wasting your dreams and all 4 years in college for a profession you hate.
Choosing a career is not an easy process. There is no getting around the process of introspection and asking yourself the tough questions. What do I want? What am I good at? What do I enjoy? What’s something I can do for the next 20 years of my life? However, once you’ve answered these questions, figuring out what you have to do to get there is equally important. Finally, don’t be afraid to change your major. Changing a career after you’ve started working is harder than changing your degree. The next step after high school can be a scary experience, but it’s a necessary one that will help us all for the better.