How to Match Career Aspiration with Education

In evaluating the success, or lack thereof of a college education, there are many factors that come into play. While some will look at GPA, extracurricular and other indicators of academic success, I consider a successful education one that improves your marketability and lands you a desirable career. Often, after graduation, students will find themselves looking for work within their field of study. However, it may make sense to take the reverse approach. Think ahead to a career you can see yourself enjoying long-term, and then base your educational trajectory around getting you to that goal. This article will provide a few tips on how to find the proper educational concentration that will get you to your desired profession.

Weighing Degree vs. Demand

While many companies are becoming less particular about the type of degree you acquire, the fact still remains that certain degrees are value more highly; at least monetarily. I’m sure by now, you are aware of the value companies place on MBA graduates. However, people are hopping on the “soft science” bandwagon. It is anticipated that in the not too distant future, there will be a growing demand for psychology majors. Those with this educational background are being recruited to fill positions such as career counselor, industrial organization specialists and special education teachers. Even positions that were traditionally filled by business grads are now shifting focus as companies are placing increased value on soft skills and emotional intelligence in their employees.

When evaluating your future career prospects, it is important to factor in the overall economic and political landscape. As government policy and a shift in vocational demand can have a tremendous impact on your employment prospects. Developments such as the recent healthcare reform surrounding the affordable care act, or economic recession can have serious implications on certain industries, while others remain relatively unaffected. The rise and fall of job demand is very similar to the consumer good market. If there is a lot of money to be had in a certain field, demand goes up. If their prospects are limited, so are those of prospective employees.

Getting the Skills you Need to Succeed

Very few institutions offer the sort of hands on training that employees need and employers value. It is important when mapping out your education, that you do your best to acquire the hands-on skills you will need to be successful in your desired vocation. While some industries, such as nursing and accountancy have become very proficient at bestowing this knowledge on students, others still focus primarily on book learning. In order to develop the sort of soft skills and creative thinking that companies covet, it is important for students to be placed in situations that foster interaction with others and the ability to solve problems creatively.

There are many factors at play when choosing a school or program for your career path, but the most important to learn how to effectively engage in a variety of tasks, and how to work collaboratively and effectively with others. Companies can teach technical skills, but they can’t teach emotional intelligence. It can also be difficult to foster these skills in an educational environment, but I would encourage you to insert yourself into as many situations as possible throughout your academic career that expand your horizons and broaden your skillset. This sort of dynamic and practical approach to education will make you a valuable asset to companies when you eventually enter the job market.

Image provided by Flickr user COD Newsroom


Kirk Kerr

About Kirk Kerr

Kirk Kerr is a recent alumnus of the College of Idaho and a lifelong learner and lover of education. When he’s not pushing his nose into a great fiction novel, he is developing his writing portfolio.

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