When one hears that phrase “investing for your future” thoughts of 401K accounts, stocks or retirement on the beach typically come to mind. There is however a big investment that young and developing professionals can make that can have a big impact in professional development: Time.
You are probably thinking “wait, I already took time to get an education, and I took time to do an internship, what more time do I need to spend on starting my career?” It is common for employees, especially new graduates, to think more about how to get a job rather than whether or not they would actually enjoy doing the job. Taking time to think about what you actually enjoy doing, and what transferable skills you have already developed through education and experience can be incredibly helpful.
It takes time and honest self-reflection to think about what you would really enjoy doing (that could also be profitable). Until binge-watching Netflix or eating Ben & Jerry’s become viable career options, investing time to better understand your interests, skills, and values will help lead to a successful and satisfying career path.
Okay, so now what? Where do you start?
- Take time to reflect on your different experiences. Challenge yourself to think about your best and worst work experiences; your skills or talents; your passions; your ideal career. It may be difficult to think of things, and that is alright, there are not right or wrong answers, just jot down what comes to mind.
- Utilize resources around you. Talk with people who know you well and have honest conversations with them about your career interests. Explore career resources such as books or online sources such as O*NET, or the University of Connecticut’s Center for Career Development website which includes tools such as HuskyCareerLink.
- Chat with a professional. It can be hard to know where to start when thinking about careers, so chatting with a career counselor can be incredibly helpful. Whether you are asking for advice, or just using them as a sounding board to talk out your options, counselors have the experience and resources that you may not be aware of. At UConn, students can meet with Career Counselors for a variety of topics ranging from choosing a major to finding a job.
Lastly, it is important to know that you don’t have to get it right the first time. You will learn from ANY job experience, and it truly is a process to find the right career fit; that is why we call it career development. As you develop and change, remember the importance of investing time into reflecting on your personality, interests, skills and values to best understand yourself.