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Take Action: Be the Key to Finding a Great Career

Written by Christopher Kachenko

Some people have career goals from a young age.  For the rest of us, exploring interests is a great way to find a career we enjoy.  College can be one of the best times to embark on this adventure given all the opportunities that are presented to students.  Here are three tips to get you started on your exploration.

Explore

While it may seem scary, a study conducted by the Education Advisory Board found that “75-85% of students will switch majors before they graduate”.  College is a rare opportunity to pursue anything that interests you.  You have the chance to take classes in areas that you may be interested in, even if you are unfamiliar with the subject.

I personally changed my major twice in college.  Starting out as an Interior Design major, I decided to try something unconventional and interesting.  While I do still enjoy the subject, I quickly found that I didn’t have the artistic ability and imagination necessary to succeed in Interior Design  Having bailed on that plan, I was not sure what to do next so I reached out to my academic advisor to take a career development class.  The classwork helped me explore my personal and career interests.  I identified Finance as an option and tried out a few of its classes. In the end, I ultimately ended up in Computer Information Systems after taking a computer applications class while also learning to build computers on my own time.  Having the ability to explore these vastly different majors gave me a sense of relief, and I am not left wondering that I missed an opportunity.

Go beyond

While classes can give you insight and skills pertaining to a specific field, going beyond the classroom is key to develop an understanding of your chosen field.  Coming from an IT background, the interns that I see that succeed are the ones that are motivated and learn skills outside the classroom.  Go join a professional organization, read current events and books about your field, or find free online training.  Immersing yourself in your area of interest is a great way to determine if it is the right place for you.

In my search for a suitable major, going beyond the classroom was key in my switch to Computer Information Systems.  At the end of my first year in college, I became interested in computers so that I could build my own.  That summer I spent 2+ hours every day reading and watching online videos about computers.  I eventually built my own computer and now have built close to ten different systems.  After switching into the new major I also decided to join my major’s professional organization.  This gave me an insight into IT careers and was a major factor in my continued interest in the field.  During my last two years in college, I served as an officer in the organization and made many friends and connections from the experience.

Take a chance

Internships take all sorts of forms and exist in virtually any field.  Get an internship and absorb all the information you can; you never know where it might lead you.  Getting experience in your field can be very helpful in determining where exactly you might want to go in the future.

Personally, my first internship experience was in IT Support for a local school district.  I really enjoyed the year-long internship, but decided that I wanted to do more than just a support role.  It was at this point that I started an internship in Information Security for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.  While having a broader background in IT, I did not have any specific Information Security experience. Luckily I was able to take the chance to learn about something unfamiliar and interesting.  I became increasingly fascinated with Information Security and am now a full time Analyst.

Choosing a career can be a difficult and often confusing decision.  If you are unsure of your current path, remember that there are always other options available to you if you take steps to find them.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland or the Federal Reserve System.

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