As a student or young professional, identifying your career interests is a crucial step towards creating a fulfilling and happy career. While traditional methods like career assessments and job shadowing are helpful, in this article, we’ll explore some unique ways to identify your career interests that you might not have considered before.
Look for patterns in your hobbies and passions
Your hobbies and passions can be a great starting point for identifying your career interests. Take some time to reflect on the activities that bring you joy and look for patterns. Do you enjoy working with your hands or creating things? Do you have a passion for helping others or solving problems? Identifying these patterns can help you determine what kind of career might be a good fit for you.
For example, if you’re passionate about the environment, you may consider a career in environmental policy, conservation biology, or green energy and in practice, you could join an environmental group or organization to gain more experience and knowledge in the field or even volunteer for clean-up events or participate in sustainability initiatives in your community.
When looking for patterns in your hobbies and reflecting on those experiences, it’s important to approach the exercise with an open mind and a willingness to explore different possibilities. Here are some steps you can take to help you identify patterns and reflect on your experiences:
- List out your hobbies and passions: Make a list of all the activities you enjoy doing in your free time, whether it’s reading, cooking, playing sports, volunteering, or anything else. Try to include as many hobbies and passions as possible, even if they seem unrelated to your career interests.
- Analyze your hobbies and passions: Look for patterns in your list. Do you see any common themes or skills that emerge? For example, if you enjoy playing sports, you might notice that you enjoy working with a team and setting and achieving goals. Let’s remember this.
- Think about how your hobbies and passions relate to different career paths: Once you’ve identified patterns, think about how those skills and interests could translate to different career paths. From the previous example, if you enjoy working with a team and setting and achieving goals, you might consider a career in project management. So, you started with simply just enjoying playing sports to now considering a career path in project management! Not bad!
- Reflect on your experiences: Finally, reflect. Think about what you enjoyed most about those experiences, what challenges you faced, and what you learned from those experiences. Consider how those experiences could translate to a career and what kind of work environment and tasks would be most fulfilling for you.
Take a personality test
Another way to identify your career interests is by taking a personality test. These tests can provide insight into your strengths, weaknesses, and personality traits, which can help you determine what kind of career might be a good fit for you. There are many different personality tests available, but some popular options include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Strong Interest Inventory, and the Enneagram.
While personality tests aren’t foolproof, they can provide a helpful starting point for exploring your career options and help you understand your personality traits and how they might translate to different careers.
Network and conduct informational interviews
Networking and conducting informational interviews can also help you identify your career interests. Firstly, identify professionals who can help you. Think about people you know or admire who work in fields that interest you. Don’t be afraid to ask your family, friends, or professors for help. You can also reach out to professionals on LinkedIn or other networking sites.
When you find someone you’d like to speak with, reach out and introduce yourself. Explain that you are interested in learning more about their career path and would appreciate the opportunity to speak with them about their experiences. Be specific in asking them for an international interview so they know what you are trying to get out of the experience.
Before the interview, research the professional and their industry. Think about what you want to learn and prepare a list of thoughtful questions. This is the time to get creative and authentic with your conversation starters to help the interview experience be fun for you and the person you are interviewing! Show that you value their time and expertise by being well-prepared and respectful.
During the interview, listen carefully to the professional’s responses and be open to new ideas and insights. Take notes and ask follow-up questions as needed. Remember that this is an opportunity to learn and grow. And lastly, be sure to follow up and stay in touch. After the interview, send a thank-you note to the professional for their time and insights. Let them know how much you appreciate their help and ask if they have any advice for you as you move forward in your career. Keep in touch and continue to build your network.
Volunteer or intern in a related field
Volunteering or interning in a related field is another way to explore your career interests. These opportunities can give you hands-on experience in a particular field and help you determine whether it’s a good fit for you. Even if you don’t end up pursuing a career in that field, the experience can still be valuable and help you develop transferable skills.
Attending career fairs and conferences
Finally, attending career fairs and conferences can be a great way to explore your career interests. These events offer the opportunity to meet professionals, learn about different industries, and make valuable connections. They can also give you insight into emerging trends and new career paths that you might not have considered before.
Specifically for young professionals
Even if you are already graduated and are working in your career, that doesn’t mean you can’t explore using your skills in different ways. You may have anywhere between 3-5 different careers throughout your lifetime as you evolve in your professionalism!
By looking at your hobbies and passions, taking personality tests, networking, and conducting informational interviews, volunteering, or interning in a related field, and attending career fairs and conferences, you can explore your options and discover what kind of career might be a good fit for you. Remember to keep an open mind and be willing to try new things – your NEXT dream career might be just around the corner!
Hi! My name is Nadia Ibrahim-Taney and I help people design happy and fulfilling careers through authentic career coaching. My expertise includes career exploration guidance, resume writing, interview prep and LinkedIn profile optimization. My pronouns are She/ Her/ Hers and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I focus on how diverse identities impact and influence folks holistically and professionally. Please connect with me on LinkedIn through my website.