I always wanted to become a detective. Most of us do, after watching CSI or Forensic Files on cable TV. My passion started way before any TV programme. But, there’s so much to becoming a detective in America. First, you need to be embedded in the culture. I was saying, I’m Caribbean as if I wasn’t going to be indoctrinated. This attitude only delayed my dreams. Once I realized I had to figure out what I wanted to be, I started working on it right away, but it was too late for my dream of being a detective. Most people age out of the law enforcement profession and by that, I mean the earlier you apply and pass the exams the better because after age 34/35 you are no longer eligible, under normal circumstances.
Choosing the right career can be daunting, but before you choose, the best thing is to self-talk. First, ask yourself what are some of the careers you might like and put them together for your best career fit. If you don’t have any idea what you want to do, the task may seem insurmountable. Fortunately, it isn’t. Follow an organized process and you will increase your chances of making a good decision.
Use self-assessment tools, and career tests to gather information about your traits and, subsequently, generate a list of occupations that are a good fit based on them. Some people choose to work with a career counselor or other career development professionals who can help them navigate this process.
Now you have more information, start to narrow down your list even further. Based on what you learned from your research, so far, begin eliminating the careers you don’t want to pursue any further. You should end up with two to five occupations on your “bucket list”.
Remove everything with duties that don’t appeal to you. Eliminate careers that have weak job outlooks. Get rid of any occupation if you are unable or unwilling to fulfill the educational or other requirements, or if you lack some of the soft skills necessary to succeed in it.
Once you decide, identify your long- and short-term goals. This helps to chart a course toward eventually landing work in your chosen field. Long-term goals, typically, take about three to five years to reach, while you can usually fulfill a short-term goal in six months to three years.
Let the research you did about required education and training be your guide. If you don’t have all the details, do some more research. An example of a long-term goal would be completing your education and training. Short-term goals include applying to college, apprenticeships, other training programmes, and internships.
Arrange to meet with people who work in the occupations in which you are interested. They can provide firsthand knowledge about the careers on your short list. Access your network, including LinkedIn, to find people with whom to have these informational interviews
Finally, pick the occupation that you think will bring you the most satisfaction based on all the information you have gathered. Realize that you are allowed do-overs, if you change your mind about your choice at any point in your life. Many people change their careers at least a few times. I know I did.
Subrina Hall Azih is a Trinidadian Educator residing in New York.