Career Choices

Career ChoicesDoctor? Lawyer? Teacher? Scientist? The choices are overwhelming! Beyond playing a children’s game to make a choice, what more can one do?

High school and college students feel daunted when they hear that they will spend 100,000 hours in their lives working. The pressure grows exponentially with the added desire to do something they love.  What can one do as a parent and educator to help alleviate this burden on our students?

Here are a few quick tips to help:

  1. Remind your students/children that future employers will first search their name on the Internet. What they post now may be found for decades down the road.
  2. Have them make a list of all of the occupations which interest them the most.
  3. Go to O*Net and read about each of these occupations. This site is powered with valid data from the U.S. Department of Labor.  Each occupation will be listed with:
    • tasks
    • tools and technology used
    • knowledge, skills, abilities
    • activities performed in the profession
    • job zone/demographics
    • education/credentials
    • salary
    • interests
    • occupational forecasting
    • This site will also give a list of related occupations to help narrow down their desires and interests.
  4. If your student/child has no idea what they want to do, O*Net also offers a free career test based on Holland’s Themes.
    • Have your child print out the results of the test. (Save it digitally because each of the careers is a hot link to O*Net.)
    • Go through the report with a highlighter and a pen.
    • Highlight all occupations that sound interesting.
    • Cross off all that are not interesting.
  5. Go back through all of the information you’ve look at and created. Look at the highlighted information. Do you see a pattern?
    • Recently, I did this with my daughter. Everything she highlighted was health related. She loves people. She has a desire to help people but did not want to work in medicine. She found something unique to her that met all of her needs in a new field called industrial occupational psychology.  Neither of us had heard of the field prior to her discovery, but it fits her perfectly and she is most happy with her decision.
  6. Another favorite options is What Color is My Parachute.  The career guide is updated every year which makes it a favorite among career counselors as the information is always current. It also comes with a spectacular workbook: What Color is Your Parachute? Job-Hunter’s Workbook to help guide individuals in their career choice through a variety of step by step inventories.

Choosing a career is stressful. The answers may not come all at once but through a gradual process of self-discovery. Most importantly, it is essential that you do what you love!


Tracy Harrington AtkinsonBy Tracy Atkinson

Tracy Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband and spirited long-haired miniature dachshunds. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education and a master’s in higher education. Her passion is researching, studying and investigating the attributes related to self-directed learners and learning styles. She has published several titles, including MBTI Learning Styles: A Practical Approach, The Art of Learning Journals, Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Lemosa: The Annals of the Hidden, Book Two, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.

Tracy Harrington-Atkinson

Tracy Harrington-Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the mid-west with her husband. She loved storytelling and sharing her stories with her children. As they grew, she started writing her stories down for them. She is a teacher, having taught from elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education, masters in higher education and continued on to a PhD in curriculum design. Her husband, Kerry and Tracy breed miniature dachshunds and love to spend time with their growing family. She has published several books including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Rachel's 8 and Securing Your Tent.

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