Career Q&A

What Are Some Useful Tips to Help Me Find My Ideal Career Path?

Mitchell Earl
January 2020

I played Tetris for hours as a kid.

Something about the colors. The shapes. The way the little blocks moved slowly, then faster, down the screen. The feeling of urgency to put the blocks in the perfect slot.

When I first started playing Tetris, I spent a ton of time trying to fit different shaped blocks into different openings. I lost a lot, too.

The more I played, the better I improved at anticipating where a block would fit in advance.

Much like Tetris, in life and in your career, knowing where you fit takes practice and discovery.

When you first start your career, you shouldn’t expect to know where you’ll be a good fit. The best way to discover is to try new things, to mentally track what you like and what you don’t.

But, you can improve your chances of finding what you like by looking for clues.

Just like Tetris, you can try to picture if the shape will fit in the space before you put it there. You can do the same thing by imagining yourself in particular roles before you take them.

If you’re not familiar with the actual activities involved in a role, don’t sweat it. Try to find someone who does that job. Use LinkedIn to look up people with specific job titles in your city and offer to buy them coffee.

Send them a quick message—like this example:

Hi, First Name,

Could I buy you coffee next Tuesday and ask you a few questions about what it’s like to do [insert type of work]?

I’m newly starting my career and eager to learn. I want to be mindful of your time, so I’ve also included a few of my questions below:

How did you get into [insert type of work]?

What are your favorite and least favorite parts about [insert type of work]?

What is your day-to-day as [insert type of work] like?

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in [insert type of work]?

Again, I appreciate your time!

*Pro-tip: Handwrite and mail a thank-you note to anyone who takes you up on coffee or answers your questions.

Try this approach with every role you’re interested in. Document your learning. Do extra research by googling companies with the particular roles you’re interested in. Write a blog post about what you learn for each type of role.

The more you learn about types of roles, the better prepared you’ll be to determine in advance if you’d fit into a particular role.

Of course, there are plenty of other options for discovery, as well.

There are hundreds of career assessments. There are quizzes, like Crash’s Discover. I also recommend another exercise—make a short list of things you don’t suck at, things you don’t hate, and things other people value.

The takeaway is to try as many new things as you can. Focus on learning and gaining experience. When you find something you like, keep doing it as long as you enjoy it. If you find something you don’t like, move on.

Don’t get hung up. No one else has to live your life. Your career is on you. So go create one you enjoy.


This post originally appeared on Quora here.

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