Are you seeking to start a new career? Career changing is trending these days and people switch careers for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you’re setting new goals, discovering more attractive industries, or looking to increase your life satisfaction.

Research clearly shows that job or career satisfaction and life satisfaction are strongly connected. A 2018 study from Pew Research Center found that, “Americans’ jobs and careers had a substantial bearing on how highly they rated their lives, and the topic was mentioned by a third of all respondents when they were asked to describe what gives meaning to their lives.”

Of course, there are many factors that influence our overall job satisfaction such as work culture, career growth opportunities, salary, and how much we enjoy our daily tasks. The first crucial condition, however, is that we’re happy with the career path we’ve chosen. If you set the goal to find the right career path, you might be wondering where to begin. How do we know which career path is right for us?

As a career counselor, I help my clients identify their options with a fairly simple exercise that I would like to share with you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a recent graduate or already well established in your career. If you are currently exploring career paths, this will be a helpful tool.

Step 1: Learn about Careers Through Research

First, create a list of career paths that might be available to you. If you are struggling coming up with ideas, here are some fields to consider for STEM graduates outside of academia, just to give you a place to start:

There might be a lot more than you can imagine and that you are not aware of yet. It’s helpful to do some research on what’s out there before you proceed with the exercise.

Tools to identify careers are:

  • Job boards
  • News feeds on careers
  • Talk to people
  • Go to meetings/conferences (local and beyond)
  • Learn how others achieved the job(s) you want
  • LinkedIn articles
  • Glassdoor, LinkedIn or other workforce reports

Define and Ideate Career Paths

Step 2: Select 3 careers

Now that you have a list of possible careers in mind, select the three that you find most appealing for yourself.

Step 3: Evaluate your skills

List the skills that are needed to succeed in this career. Do you possess them? If so, how would you rate them on a scale from 1 – 10?

Step 4: Determine how to obtain missing skills

For each skill that you rated lower than 6, consider how you can obtain or strengthen them. There are many options such as attending workshops or bootcamps, online webinars/courses, or even volunteering for a position that can enhance your desired skill(s).



When you look at the three paths you chose and how your skills qualify you for each of them, you might notice that some are a better fit than others. Doing this exercise for several career paths will help you define and ideate opportunities that are good fit for you personally.

I will continue sharing more tips and strategies to help you determine your optimal career trajectory. Follow me and STEM Career Services on LinkedIn and Twitter to see new posts and updates.