I am now on my second job since graduating from college and I am starting to think that the career path I thought was right for me, isn’t. I am not sure what I want to do, but I don’t think this career path is for me. Did I waste my college degree on a field I no longer want to work in? Or, should I stick it out and try to get another job and give this career path one last try? What should I do?

In response to the first question:

Even if you feel like you’ve wasted time on a degree that perhaps has less job opportunities or lead to an unsatisfying job, in today’s employment market it is still an advantage to have a degree. There are Twin Cities companies that will only hire individuals with college degrees.  Statistics show that degreed individuals have lower unemployment and higher income rates than non-degreed individuals. To find specific data showing the median household income in relation to educational attainment check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_States. You can also find data at the Bureau of Labor Statistic, www.bls.gov .

In response to the second question:

I have personally experienced the pain of being stuck in the wrong field, job and organization, but in today’s market I do not advise ‘jumping ship’ without having identified what satisfies you in a career.  Invest some time in Career Self Assessment and Occupation Exploration.

A self-assessment process helps you identify and understand career satisfaction and engagement criteria that leads to fulfillment. It can identify transferable skills, values, strengths, roles/functions, personality, and interests. The process I use, “Assessing and Deciding Your Fit”, helps clients identify work activities that provide enjoyment, organization qualities that match values, practical need criteria (defining salary, benefits etc), and expectations of relationships at work (co-worker/team). A good self assessment process should lead to richer knowledge and understanding of self, thus promoting increased decision-making clarity during job search.

I also use an occupational exploration tool that looks at how well a job will or will not fit you. The process helps build data about occupations of interest; researching industries, fields, titles and more, and then you compare that data to your self assessment criteria. The process also identifies what you need to move forward to obtain a specific occupation for example, further education or training.  Next steps may include informational interviewing, networking, and career shadowing to help prioritize and determine which occupation is best to pursue.

— Cindy Edwards, M.A.