Choosing a Career

When choosing a college or university to attend, you probably considered a lot of different factors such as: size, cost, reputation, and location. Choosing a career is much harder because you must find something that is compatible with both short and long term professional and personal goals. You need to decide what is important to you now and how that might change as your career progresses.
Today, most people hold two or more careers during their professional life. Some will move from job to job, gaining skills and self-knowledge, before finally settling on a career for the long-term. Other will spend a few years after college teaching or doing research or national service, and then move on to the private sector or to graduate/professional school. Some leave their private sector careers in mid-life to teach, serve in government, or to pursue self-employment.
When choosing a career, it is important to consider all of the following criteria. Rate the importance of each one to you – at this point in your life – on a scale of 1 (not important) to 5 (very important). Then ask yourself: How are these ratings likely to change in 5 years? 10 years? 30 years?
Career Choice Criteria:
Job availability

  • Ratio of available candidates to job openings
  • Stable or cyclical

Total compensation and benefits

  • Salary
  • Pension benefits
  • Health care benefits
  • Holidays and vacation time

Job character

  • Job security
  • Interesting work
  • Challenging work
  • Creative work
  • Meaningful / significant work
  • Independence / control over work
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Opportunities to learn and to share knowledge with others
  • People oriented or object-oriented

Interaction with personal life

  • Job location – being able to choose where you will work
  • Job mobility - being able to move to a new location
  • Compatibility with having a family
  • Work hours and hours per week
  • Job status / community respect
  • Flexible hours

Students at Arizona State Univeristy also have access to the Career Services department which can assist you with career exploration, professional goals, resume advice, and career advice. 

Arizona State University, P.O. Box 871504, Tempe, AZ 85287-1504

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