Amy Cailene

What Should You Do With Your Life? Tips from a Seasoned Career Changer

Only a few lucky souls know what they want to do professionally from an early age. Most of us are still grappling with this huge and daunting decision when we arrive at college. And many still struggle to find their calling throughout college, and even afterward.

I should know, as I certainly fall into all these categories except the first. I changed majors eight times, and switched graduate programs twice. As a worker, I have dabbled in the medical field, science, technology, business, writing, arts, childcare, physical fitness, teaching, and career advising.

Forrester Research predicts that today’s youngest workers will hold twelve to fifteen different jobs in their lifetime, so according to that statistic, I am pretty much on track. When your friends and relatives ask you what you plan to do when you grow up (as if there is only one career ahead), start altering that question in your mind to mean, “What do you plan to do FIRST when you grow up?”

Knowing that you are highly likely to try many different jobs may put you at ease, or creates some discomfort, depending on your personality. Either way, you still need to choose a career to try first, right? Here are some tips for narrowing down that big decision:

  • Talk with a Career Educator! We have been trained with many tools to help you figure out your values, skills, personality traits, and interests so that you can choose a fulfilling career path. To make an appointment, call the Career Center at (970) 491-5707.
  • Participate in the Industry Tours offered by the Career Center to meet potential employers and get a feel for different work environments. Click here to go to the Career Center Events schedule, which includes Industry Tours.
  • Log on to Ram Career Ready here to explore your values, skills, personality traits, and interests on your own.
  • Take a 2-minute personality assessment here to start thinking in the right career direction.
  • Visit O*Net to explore lots of different occupations and take the O*Net Interest Profiler Online Assessment to narrow down your professional interests.
  • Do you know professionals who have jobs that you may want? Ask to shadow them in their workplaces! By being in their work environments for even a short time, you will learn a lot about what they actually do, and get a sense for whether you are interested in further exploring those careers.

I also highly recommend bouncing some possible career ideas off those who know you well. Ask trusted friends, relatives, classmates, and instructors what they see as your possible career strengths, as well as areas in which you may need improvement. Whenever I have done this, I find myself amazed at how people perceive me, because I don’t usually view myself in the same way. Consider their feedback, but view them only as consultants, because you are the one who ultimately needs to decide which career is right for you.

As you are exploring your options, if you realize that you are one of those people, like me, who is way too interested in way too many things, know that there are plenty of professions in which a combination of many interests and skills is highly valued. Now and in the future, people who are able to integrate various disciplines offer a unique skillset that society needs. You will realize, like I did, that there is a place for you in this world.

Continue the conversation on the CSU Career Center’s Facebook or LinkedIn page.

About the Author

Amy Cailene works at the Career Center at Colorado State University, where she advises students of all majors and all college education levels. She focuses on assisting marginalized populations, such as students with DACA and those who are undocumented, racial and ethnic minorities, first generation students, and students with disabilities.
Amy has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Master of Arts degree in Teaching. Her professional and volunteer pursuits have ranged from the medical field, to science research, technology, business, writing, arts, physical fitness, teaching, and career advising. She looks forward to using her myriad of experience to help you in your career journey!