So, we’ve already talked about what career development is. Let’s get back to talking about why career development is important, aka, my favorite part!
Honestly, there are a lot of reasons why career development is important. The key reason is that it allows you to get a better understanding of who you are and what you want in the world. You not only get to discover the things that you do like, but also understand the things that you don’t, and now with more identifiable reasons.
It also gives you an opportunity to understand a world of different career paths. We don’t know what we don’t know, which is okay, but that’s why the exposure piece of career development is so crucial.
As you develop a list of potential majors, you can get more information about the careers that you’ve already been interested in. There are a ton of different career paths that you can pursue even just within one field. Take business for example. There are more than 20 concentrations to pursue; each requires slightly different educational paths. There’s management, marketing, finance, supply chain management, accounting; the list can go on and on. Ensuring that you start down the right educational path will save you time, energy, and money in the end.
And of course, you may be exposed to careers that you didn’t even know existed. Often, students may only know the careers that are readily present in their day-to-day lives, so through exploration, you can expand on your knowledge and find things you didn’t even know were possible. And who knows, the “perfect” career for you may not even exist yet!
So, what are some other reasons that career development is important?
In previous posts in this series, we highlighted the importance of identifying your skills and strengths, your interests and passions. So now, what’s important to understand is how your skills and interests mesh, because they may not always be related. What do I mean by this? Although you may like something, it doesn’t mean that you necessarily excel at it, and in the same sense, just because you may be good at something doesn’t mean you actually like doing it.
Finding a nice balance between your skills and the things that you’re interested in, or even passionate about, is the ultimate goal. And that’s not something that we can ask you to have figured out right now of course . But, starting finding the right balance of skills and interests can lead you to a career you love one day.
Let’s use an example of how skills and interests can influence your career. Maybe you don’t like science classes. Not that you are bad at them; you actually get good grades. But, you can’t stand sitting through a chemistry or biology class. Pursuing a career in science, medical laboratory sciences for example, probably wouldn’t be the best route, because you would be in a career that you wouldn’t find enjoyable.
Now let’s look at the reverse. Let’s say you really enjoy biology and chemistry and find the topics extremely interesting. You love learning about cells and atoms, homeostasis and the bonding of chemicals. But, these are not classes that you excel in. No matter how hard you try, connecting all the dots and mastery of the material remains quite difficult, but you still enjoy learning the topics. Realistically, medical laboratory science still might not be the best career path of choice.
Although you do want to be challenged in a career, the level of challenge should be one that is enjoyable and allows you to grow, not one that is exceedingly difficult. Like I said before, career exploration is all about finding that balance.
Now I have a question for you. Have you been in class and wondered why what you were learning even mattered? I mean, it’s a valid question, right?
This is another reason why career development is important and this is where academic development comes in. If students begin to understand the relationship between their interests, academics, future careers, and educational planning, they’ll be more interested and invested in their academic path.
It starts with understanding why you find a subject riveting. What about it interests you? Can you imagine utilizing this information long term or in your day-to-day work? Next, how can this topic be translated into a specific career path and major? Lastly, what other classes can you take that can also relate to this field?
This knowledge allows students to better plan their high school schedules, and in turn, they will be better prepared when they begin their college coursework. And like I said before, if students have an understanding about why they are taking something, as well as seeing how it can be useful in their future, they will be more likely to be invested in their education.
Let’s stay on the topic of academic development for a second. Now, there are thousands of colleges out there, a lot of which teach the “same” major. But, did you know that not all of them teach it the same way?
I know this may sound a little confusing, but let’s take a look at and compare a Marketing degrees from Kent State and The Ohio State University. In the end, marketing is all about the strategy of getting consumers to want to buy your product or service. If we look at OSU’s marketing major, their program is more analytical. Lots of numbers and statistics; basically trying to figure out the who, what, and why a consumer is buying a product based on the numbers.
If we look at Kent State’s marketing track, their program is focused on design and creativity. Their program is centered on the promotion of products and the targeting of advertising towards consumers; basically answering the who, what, and how questions in marketing.
So, if you’re more analytical and interested in working in corporate retail, maybe the marketing program at OSU would be a great fit for you. But, if you are more interested in the creative and advertising side of marketing, then a school like Kent State may be a better fit.
This is why academic development is vital; in order to pick the ‘right’ college, you need to understand the different majors, which comes through career development, which truthfully starts from understanding yourself.
Once you understand who you are, you have now reached the” best version” of yourself. Without getting too deep into psychology (I mean that was my major), I don’t think your “best self” is someone who is perfect, or who does everything right. No, I don’t think that at all. Your “best self” is a version of you that only you can be. It’s someone who knows and understands the best, and worst parts of themselves.
You’ve come to terms with who you are and why you are the way you are, and you utilize those strengths and weaknesses in the best way possible. This isn’t just useful for college. Like I said earlier, it’s something that will follow you forever. But, only once you know your best self, can you do something like picking your best college; one stop in the journey of life.
Okay, I’m done getting super deep. Ultimately, all of these reasons and steps involved with career development are a part of a bigger plan–getting the best return on your college investment. Making a plan allows you to have options to choose from when the time comes…giving you the power.
Realistically, academic and career development don’t stop when you go away to college. Matter of fact, that is only the beginning.
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