The transition from high school to college is arguably one of the most exciting times in the life of a student. A time of new beginnings, of intense emotions and perennial memories. It is also a time that demands big changes, careful planning, and important and often difficult decisions. Prime among these decisions is choosing a career path. Though many high school seniors believe they know what studies they want to pursue, surveys indicate that a college student will change major an average of three times. In this article we succinctly describe some guidelines that can be helpful in the process of making career decisions.
1. Know yourself
Take the time to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, to identify the subjects and activities you enjoy and the ones you dislike, to determine your goals and expectations. Think about the kind of work you would like to perform, the working conditions and earning level you seek, and the implications on your overall lifestyle. Discuss these issues, as well as your plans and concerns, with your parents, teachers, counselors and friends. Then, using resources like those discussed below, find out which career paths would most likely draw on your strengths, be of your liking, and meet your expectations.
2. Talk to the experts
Career counselors, available in many high schools and most colleges, are professionals trained to guide you in the process of making career decisions. They will administer specialized questionnaires and tests to help you identify and evaluate your interests, your strengths and weaknesses, and your goals.
A valuable source of information about a specific career are people working in that field. Try to meet and talk to some of them. Inquire about the nature of their work, the working conditions, the training required, the job market outlook, and what they like and dislike about their work. Then compare their answers with your expectations.
3. Know the job market
The availability of good job opportunities has traditionally been, and will continue to be, one of the very important elements in career decision making. The more dynamic and global character of today's economy makes it somewhat harder to accurately anticipate long-term changes in the job market. Nevertheless, there are valuable studies on employment trends that can be an important resource in assessing future demand for specific careers.
4. Consult various information sources
In addition to educational institutions and government agencies, other sources of career information and reference material include public libraries, professional societies, companies and business firms. Much of this information, and more, is also available at your fingertips through the Internet. It is always a good practice to consult more than one source before reaching an opinion.
5. Let the student decide
All too often well intentioned parents try to choose a career and a college for their son or daughter without much regard for the students' preferences and skills. This approach can put significant strain on family relationships and can be for the student a source of frustration for years to come. People that enjoy and use their strengths in what they do usually have more successful and fulfilling careers.
6. Keep an Islamic perspective
Last, but certainly not least, keep always an Islamic perspective on things. More important than the successes and failures we encounter in life is the way in which we react to them. We should be thankful to Allah and humble in our achievements, and we should be thankful and patient in our defeats. Face every challenge and perform every task to the best of your abilities, and at the same time pray for Allah's help, guidance and forgiveness. Indeed, the amount of taqwa we accumulate in our hearts is a more trustworthy measure of our success in life.