TV shows and movies are filled with beautiful characters that have glamorous careers. Entire plots have been based around life in law firms, advertising agencies and executive suites. Of course you know reality isn’t all it’s made up to be in Hollywood but how do you get the real scoop on your dream job? With a bit of research, networking and a healthy dose of reality, you can learn what an actual day’s work looks like for your career of choice.
The best way to find out what a professional does all day is to speak to someone who’s doing it. You may not be able to think of any pilots, veterinarians or ballerinas at the top of your head but if you ask your friends and family members, you will be surprised how many connections you actually have! Let everyone you meet know about your career goals. If they know someone who is in that field, they will very likely volunteer the information. All you have to do is follow up!
Career counselors and professional recruiters can also be a wealth of information, particularly those that specialize in a specific line of work. Your school counselors are likely generalists, so to get the real dirt you may have to pay for a counselor who is an expert in your field of interest. This is worth the money, especially if that person used to work in the profession himself. If money is an issue, you may be able to hustle some free information from a recruiter. Recruiters get paid when they place a person in a job so by helping steer you in that direction, they may be investing in a future client. If they do offer to meet with you and give some free advice, it wouldn’t hurt to show your appreciation by paying for lunch or coffees.
If you’re not quite ready to commit to meeting with professionals to discuss your interests, online job ads are easy and free sources to learn the details of a position. Employment postings usually contain an overview of the skills needed, plus information on the day-to-day tasks you would be performing. Even if you are not qualified for the job, reading job descriptions of what you hope to be doing one day is a great way to build the education and experience needed to get there eventually.
Most importantly, remember that careers are not all they seem. TV shows are written to make everyday life exciting and fun but that is rarely the case in reality. Learning the real highs and lows of a profession is a great way to discover if you are really cut out for them. This way, when you hit one of the low points you won’t be surprised or disappointed. But hopefully, the highs will be everything you dreamed they would be!