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By Christina Siders, NCA senior assistant director, serving students in McCormick, Medill, SESP & The Graduate School.

christinaNot sure what you want to be when you grow up? Don’t worry about it. You heard me right. One of the top 5 things students stress about involves this hypothetical commitment to identifying a ‘forever career.’ Yes, some students have been on track to their dream job since they were little. However, the vast majority of students don’t even know how to identify their ‘dream job.’ The concept of a dream job is a lofty one, considering there are countless occupations in the world. Will you enjoy some jobs more than others? Of course. Does that mean that you have to find the 1 perfect job right after graduation? Of course not. Finding a career is a lifelong journey, and one that is defined by both successes and failures. For example, Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor b/c ‘he lacked imagination.’ JK Rowling was on welfare before becoming one of the richest people alive. Steve Jobs was fired from his own company at the age of 30, and it took almost 20 years for James Dyson to sell his first patent for his highly successful vacuum designs. The point is, it takes time to find work that drives you toward success. All you need to define right now is where you want to start.

Here are some practical strategies to get you one step closer:

1. Conduct informational interviews and job shadow as much as you can. The more people you can talk to, the more ‘aha’ moments you will have. Plus, you can learn from other people’s mistakes rather than making them yourself.
2. Do a career assessment. While it won’t identify your one perfect job, it’s a great starting point. A career counselor at NCA can help you figure out the rest.
3. Change the question. Instead of asking ‘What do I want to do with the rest of my life?’ ask instead ‘What do I want to try first?’ Then seek out an internship, a job, or volunteer in a relevant role.

Need help connecting the dots? Make an appointment in CareerCat with a Career Counselor. We look forward to meeting you!