Having worked in a Career Center for five years and advised college students for over a decade, I know the stresses associated with choosing a career. As educators and parents, we want our children to find the right to be financially stable, and enjoy their work. However, our desires can place an incredible amount of pressure on our students/children. It would be impossible to offer suggestions for how to pursue specific careers so instead; I offer general tips that have helped me and others over the years.

Start with your interests

This is simple but so important. Those people most content with their jobs are the ones who figured out what they are good at, and found a way to connect that with their passion and interests. Becoming a tourism educator made sense for me because I love traveling, meeting new people, learning, exploring and have a career that is constantly changing from year to year.

Don’t focus on the ‘perfect path’

Early on, I thought I would be best suited for teaching K-12 students. This was mostly because I had no idea about the variety of careers out there. My Undergraduate grades were not quite high enough at the time to do my Masters in Education. Instead, I went on to do a Masters in Sociology, a Ph.D. and taught college. My point is that you should never give up on a dream. Always be willing to adjust your goals when needed. Be flexible and open minded with your career path.

Research

Think of yourself as a private investigator, hired to solve the mysteries of your career. Most people find working on their resume, cover letter and job searching to be tedious. However, a simple mindset change can actually help. Do the research, and if an opportunity to volunteer or help in a eld related to your long-term goals presents itself, take it! Look up companies to see what types of new career opportunities are out there. Reach out to people if you find their work interesting. This could provide numerous opportunities for you to work on some really interesting research projects.

Network. Explore. Re-evaluate. Repeat.

Networking is your most valuable career searching resource. Start with your close networks to determine if anyone knows someone in the particular industry you are interested in. Ask people what they like and dislike about their careers. Take advantage of opportunities like career days, conferences or industry networking events provided by your schools. More importantly, engage with people during these events. If your teacher brings in interesting guest speakers, talk to them! If you attend a conference, venture out and talk to strangers. Be adventurous and branch out.

Set achievable goals

I have worked with many students over the years who were devastated with not achieving certain goals. The key is to be flexible and create goals that are achievable. Every once in a while, stop and ask yourself if you are happy with the path you are on. Sometimes a minor goal shift is all you need to get back on track.

Get out into the world!

In conclusion, I am going to encourage you to get out into the world. I have always loved the change in my students when they choose to leave their comfort zone and get out into the world. Traveling can boost your confidence and open a new set of opportunities for you. Stay focused. Best of luck as you explore the world of career opportunities.

By Dr Jan L Jones

Dr Jones (Ph.D.) has 10 years of full time teaching and advising experience in leisure, sustainable tourism and global education. Her research has taken her to Cuba, Portugal, Germany, Ireland, Jordan, Jamaica, Cyprus, and Crete.