The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the uncertainty and worry college students annually feel about focusing on the right career and finding their dream job. The job market for young people is down, many schools have switched to remote learning, and many school resources aren’t available.
As a result, some students are concerned that their majors won’t lead to a job in their field, and they’re wondering whether they should change majors or their definition of a dream job. But on the bright side, a changing world gives college students the opportunity to fully explore exciting new options, their potential, and end up on a path better than they previously planned, says Vince Thompson (www.meltatl.com), founder and CEO of the marketing agency MELT and author of Building Brand You: How To Use Your College Experience To Find And Win Your First Job.
“Sometimes the path we planned takes a turn, but rather than leading to a dead end, it opens a whole new world to us,” Thompson says. “While this is a challenging time, it is also an exciting time if young people approach it the right way.
“The best opportunities can come out of times rife with great change, disruption, and uncertainty. Take the time to consider all options that interest you. With a will, there’s always a way to get there.”
Thompson offers college students these steps to take when rethinking their dream job:
Switch your major. “Students who want to change their career path should look at the curriculum of those majors they have interest in and decide whether it has what they’re looking for,” Thompson says. “Meet with an academic advisor before making any changes, and if necessary, reach out to the financial aid office to see how a change in major could affect your aid.”
Launch a startup – while in college. A global crisis has made some college students and recent grads realize that perhaps the best path to job stability and career fulfillment is starting their own business. “Sometimes the best fit with your passion is starting your own business, even if it’s on a shoestring and part-time,” Thompson says. “You could take entrepreneurship classes to augment your business, gaining classroom education and making connections at the same time.”
Do your homework. “It may be one of the toughest job markets in decades, but you can find opportunities faster than ever before because of the internet,” Thompson says. “If you’re thinking of changing career paths, Google everything you can on that career. Then go after it like someone has assigned you to write a thesis on this new career. And it’s also a big help to look up people in that field on LinkedIn.”
Stay motivated, show flexibility. Your dream job might be out of reach right now, but Thompson says it’s vital to shift from the disappointment and discouragement you feel to focus on the opportunities available for working – especially remote working. “Building a new narrative,” Thompson says, “and producing a brand story about how you turned this time of great challenge into a great opportunity will speak volumes to future employers.”
Develop new skills. “Developing a diverse skill set can expand your appeal to a larger number of employers,” Thompson says. “Nowadays, you’ve got lots of opportunities to learn online at your own pace, either taking individual courses or enrolling in certificate programs for different trades.”
“The most important thing to remember is that your career is your own,” Thompson says. “It will be a big part of your life, and ideally, it will embody your passion, your best skills, and define your professional success. The path you take isn’t as important as it is to keep moving down the road toward your preferred destination.”