W. P. Carey Alumni Share Advice on Deciding Between Two Career Paths

We asked W. P. Carey Alumni: What advice would you give a W. P. Carey student trying to decide between two career paths?

Here is what they shared:

  • Align Career with Long-Term Goals
  • Seek Credible Feedback and Be Vulnerable
  • Prioritize Personal and Professional Goals
  • Trust Your Gut in Career Choices
  • Consider Personal Values and Growth Opportunities
  • Evaluate Employee vs Entrepreneur Paths
  • Choose Passion Over Financial Gains

Align Career with Long-Term Goals

When you’re trying to decide between two career paths, it can feel like you’re trying to choose between two sides of yourself. My best advice? Assess your long-term goals and choose the career that will follow those.

Your long-term goals are what will define your future; they are what define your motivation and inspiration. Therefore, it’s imperative that you choose a career path that makes you feel driven to do your best every day.

It’s not an easy choice by any means. Write down all of your long-term goals, and then sort those long-term goals under the career column they would fit under. Having your choices and goals physically out in front of you will help you make the most educated and well-rounded decision.

Alex Ebner, BS Marketing ‘04, Owner, Ace Medical

Seek Credible Feedback and Be Vulnerable

Find someone who gives credible feedback and with whom you can be vulnerable regarding your life goals, fears, and blind spots. Feedback from family, friends, and people who love you is wise, but we are often not vulnerable in the way we need to be when weighing big decisions like a career change. I could have said, “Just be vulnerable,” but that is hard. It’s made much easier when someone credible is asking you questions no one else can.

Juan Kingsbury, BS Global Business ‘04, Talent Strategist, Career Blindspot

Prioritize Personal and Professional Goals

When deciding between two career paths after college, prioritize what aligns best with your personal and professional goals for the next three to five years. 

If furthering your education is a priority, consider seeking out companies that offer financial support for advanced education.

If a higher status or title is your priority, evaluate the significance of title versus compensation. If career advancement and experience are your main goals, you may opt for a startup with the potential for rapid growth, even if it means accepting a lower initial salary.

If you’re feeling like your values are misaligned with your current career path, identify a passion project you’re eager to pursue. If there is one, prioritize opportunities that align with your passion and explore ways to turn it into a fulfilling career.

Find your priorities and make choices that best serve your long-term objectives. Assess how each career path contributes to your personal and professional growth, and prioritize accordingly.

Lauren Click, BS Marketing ‘18, Founder, Let’s Go Compost

Trust Your Gut in Career Choices

Don’t spend too much time thinking about it and go with your gut. A career choice can be changed at any time, and it’s never too late to make a change. It’s not as consequential as it seems, and if you find yourself having made the wrong choice, go back and choose the other one. The more breadth of experience you gain, the more valuable you will become.

Jon Utz, BS Finance ‘09, Sr. Manager, Customer Experience Analytics, Coinbase

Consider Personal Values and Growth Opportunities

Deciding between two career paths is like standing at a crossroads – first thing, think about what really matters to you deep down. Is it making an impact, having work-life balance, or maybe climbing the corporate ladder? Your higher-level values will act like a compass here. If it’s a tie between the two, look at which one has more room for growth long-term. More opportunities down the line means more chances to align with those big-picture life goals you’ve got.

Dustin Sitar, MBA Finance/General ‘19, Head of Growth and Marketing, BriteCo Inc

Evaluate Employee vs Entrepreneur Paths

For me the question was always whether I wanted to try to climb the corporate ladder and have a successful career working at a growing company or venture out on my own and start my own business. While I was in school I worked for a couple of big corporations which helped me understand what I really wanted in life. I wanted freedom to use my time how I saw fit and wanted to be in full control of my financial destiny. I was much more suited to be a business owner than an employee.

So you need to decide, what do you want out of your career? Do you want a stable income, with reasonable work hours so you can spend time with your family each day? Go work for someone else. Do you want the freedom to pursue your own goals and passions with no guarantee of success but an opportunity for massive success? Start your own business. You can find happiness in both options but your personality is probably suited better for one or the other.

Adam White, BS Business Administration ‘08, Founder, Serpple

Choose Passion Over Financial Gains

When faced with a decision between two career paths, it’s paramount to prioritize personal fulfillment and passion over just financial gains. Choosing a career solely based on its earning potential can often lead to dissatisfaction and burnout, even if the financial rewards are substantial. It’s essential to reflect on which path brings you genuine joy and aligns with your intrinsic motivations. Often, a career that you enjoy will lead to better long-term success because you’ll be more engaged and dedicated. Opting for a high-paying job that leaves you constantly drained or without personal time can diminish the very purpose of earning that money. Remember, it’s not just about how much you earn, but also about how you feel and the quality of life you lead.
Joe Forte, BIS Communication and Small Business ‘10, Co-Founder, D-MAK Productions

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By W. P. Carey Career Services Center
W. P. Carey Career Services Center