We asked W. P. Carey Alumni: What advice would you give to someone who is trying to choose between two career paths?
Here is what they shared:
- Be Clear and Confident About Your Interests and Abilities
- Imagine Yourself in Both Roles
- Talk to People in the Field
- Pursue the Highest Standards And Be True to the Little Voice Within You
- Intern or Volunteer to Help Your Decision
- Try a Slash Career Approach
Be Clear and Confident About Your Interests and Abilities
Be clear & confident about your own personal interests, skills and talents. That is the best advice I can give anyone looking to start or further their career path. Goals are definitely an important part of a career journey, but knowing your own personality and skill set is an amazing way to determine the value you can bring to a company. Secondly, I would suggest looking for mentoring opportunities in a career path. Success leaves a trail and it’s an added benefit to have a willing mentor teach you their path to success.
Imagine Yourself in Both Roles
If you’re deciding between two career paths, that just means there are ample things that you are passionate about! A great way to help you decide between two career paths is to imagine what life looks like with each career path. Close your eyes, and picture what your day-to-day life is with this specific career path. How does this make you feel? How excited do you feel? How stressed do you feel? Then, do the same exercise with the other career path. Pick the one that makes you feel the most alive.
Talk to People in the Field
Your best bet is to go ask people who have done those things for the entirety of their career (whether retired or currently in the role), and hear about what it’s really like. Ideally, you talk to people who have worked for more than one company, so that they have some perspective outside a singular environment.
Pursue the Highest Standards And Be True to the Little Voice Within You
Set the highest standards as to what a worthwhile career/life looks like for you and you alone. Not your parents, professors, friends, etc. Feel free to borrow from others but prioritize what matters most to you – because no career will ever give you everything you want. And by higher standards, that includes not lying to yourself that money doesn’t matter. Much like oxygen, you’ll care a lot more about it when you barely have any. Paint your picture first and honestly, then pick the path you believe actually serves that vision. Fulfilling careers are rarely a straight line, and never expressing what you fully want/need will lead to plenty of false summits. Be true to the little voice in your heart and mind.
Intern or Volunteer to Help Your Decision
If you are trying to choose between two career paths, I would definitely recommend getting a bird’s-eye-view of each profession to assist in your decision. For example, you may volunteer for an organization in each field to have a better understanding of the work and the environment. Alternatively, you can ask for a shadowing opportunity with people who work in the fields that you are considering. You can also consider applying for an internship or a job in the field so that you can have first-hand experience to assist with your decision. Finally, you can connect with people who work in the fields that you are considering and ask them questions about their jobs to make sure it is a match for you.
Try a Slash Career Approach
What is a slash career? A slash career is one where a person pursues multiple career interests simultaneously. In some cases, those multiple interests turn into multiple income streams. In other cases, a second career interest is born from an interest in non-profit work or a hobby. For more on slash careers, be sure to check out “One Person, Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success” by Marci Alboher.
Joel Polanco, MBA ‘10, Intel