We all have them: dreams.
We make plans for the future and wonder where we’ll work in five years, in ten years, in twenty years. It’s a really healthy thing to have goals and a dream career you have your eye on. After all, your future work is probably a lot of the reason you chose the college or university you’re currently at—it impacted what you chose as a major and your commitment to studying for several years (or even more).
This article isn’t meant to dash your dreams at all. In fact, we want to champion you in your dreams and help you find the thing that really fits you best—the college and the career that fit you like a glove! As you make your goals and consider your future, take a look at this list and see how well your dream career meshes with these questions.
1. Does your dream career fit the lifestyle you want to have?
This is a question that might be kind of tricky to answer, but it’s definitely an important one to think through. When we imagine our future careers, it can be easy to forget to think about the lifestyle we hope to lead as future adults. One helpful thing to think through is the time commitment a certain job requires. Many careers require a basic 40 hours of work a week, but some jobs require more than that—or they require odd hours. If the idea of working evenings and holidays doesn’t bother you, then great! But if you hope to have a more predictable schedule, you might want to consider that element.
Think about your family and social life as well. Do you hope to marry and have children? How will your job impact your ability to spend time with your family? Will you have to travel a lot? Some careers involve a lot of sacrifice on the front end with schooling and training but then provide a lot of rewards later in life. There’s no one right answer to these elements, but they’re definitely important things to think through.
2. Have you done your research?
There’s no doubt about it: a lot of students choose a somewhat random degree to major in because they don’t know what they want to do with the rest of their lives. There’s nothing wrong with heading into college with no clear vision of what you do want your dream career to be—oftentimes, it becomes apparent as you take different classes and discover more about who you are. But if you are heading into college with a specific dream career in mind, make sure you do the proper research to find out if this is a career you actually do want to pursue.
Conduct an informational interview with someone working in that role, and ask them what the hours are like, what the culture at their workplace is like, and what a typical day on the job looks like for them. See if you can snag an internship at the type of place you’d love to work someday. Find about the job pay, the job’s long-term prospects, the qualifications required for the role, and the type of position you’d actually enjoy working within the field you’re considering. When you’re in college, professors and career offices are great starting points to figure out if the career you have your eye on is the right one for you.
3. What kind of investment will you need to make in yourself?
Some careers cost more on the front end but pay back more in the future. Knowing what’s required of you in terms of education, certifications, major exams, training requirements, and time commitment can help you understand the type of career you’re headed toward. Will you need to invest in a whole fleet of suits for a certain job? Or other work-related attire? Will you have to purchase your own tools?
Some jobs require that you stay in great physical shape, and others require that you constantly be up to date on the newest scholarly information. It’s certainly a positive thing to be a lifelong learner, and if learning and research is your bent, it’s a good idea to head toward a career that provides ample opportunity for that.