7 Unconventional Ways to Test Out Careers Before You Choose

August 14, 2014 Renee Masur

The right attitude at work - Sokanu

Choosing the career you are going to pursue is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life. There are so many options and no easy way to calculate them all. So far, Sokanu has catalogued over 600 careers with the help of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which has thousands and thousands of careers. That doesn’t even include all the weird ones you’ve never heard of. This makes choosing a career an extremely difficult task. Here are a few ways to get a feel for some careers to see if it’s worth pursuing.

Make Your Dream Board

The first part of this process is about narrowing down your selection. Pick five careers that you think are super interesting. As always, we love helping you decide with our free career test. Don’t be too critical of the job at this point – just think about what would be a good fit for you. Suspend your doubts for a moment; forget the how and focus on the what.

1. Invite someone for a cup of coffee or a Skype call

Is there someone you know that is already working in a career you think is interesting? Ask them out for a cup of coffee to see if you can pick their brains about the work they do. If you don’t know anyone, do a bit of research about people in the field—a Skype call might work just as well.  When I’m trying to find an expert, I like to use the People Search on Twitter. Cold-calling can be uncomfortable, but it can go a long way. Let them know you are interested in pursuing a career and that you’d love to know about their real-life experience. They can offer one-of-a-kind insights that you can’t get from a website. Their open and candid conversation may reveal more than you expected.

2. Take some free classes

There are a lot of free online courses that offer free education about almost any subject. This is an excellent way to see if you find a specific subject interesting. If you think Atmospheric Scientist sounds cool, try out a course in physics. There are many different, free online courses available all of which can be done on your schedule with no commitment. Use classes as a way to experiment and see which subjects get your brain really fired up.

3. Look at the job openings

So what do these jobs actually entail? Get a feel for the exact skills you might need by checking out some of the job postings for different careers. Each job comes with a unique set of responsibilities - browse around and see what makes one job unique from the next! 

4. Internships

I am a huge fan of internships. It's how I got started at Sokanu! While it is also dependent on a flexible schedule, internships allow you to get some real hands-on experience without any prior knowledge. Internships are about learning as much as you can while contributing to another organization. Getting an internship requires an ask, so find an organization you think would be really amazing and see if they would consider having you there part-time as an intern to help out. 

5. Part-time Jobs

This one tends to be constrained by time, but if you have the option, use your part-time job as a way to get experience in a career. Think you want to be a restaurant manager? You’ll have to start off working in a kitchen restaurant. This will definitely be useful if you want to pursue the career, since you’ll have real experience to back it up.

6. Use a Mentorship program

If approaching strangers to have a chat isn’t your style, there are some online resources that have people who are already willing to share some of their expertise. While cold-calling will allow you to get specific about the people you want to talk to, there are some mentorship programs available online that already have a host of people that are willing to talk about their experiences, like 10,000 coffees, Levo League, and Evisors

7. Ask Questions on Quora or Reddit

Sometimes a mass Q&A session can reveal all kinds of information that you never knew about. You can ask as many questions as you'd like, for example, “what are the typical hours of a marine biologist” or “what’s one thing you wish you knew about marine biology before you began?” The answers will be diverse.

I actually asked this question on Quora; "what are some interesting ways to try out a career without committing to it", and this was one of the answers: 

"You can answer questions on Quora about that career. By conducting research to answer open questions about a certain field, you'll be forced to dig into the topic and put yourself in the shoes of actual practitioners."—Patrick Mathieson 

On Putting Yourself Out There

After you’ve done the research, getting some real experience is about reaching out to people. What I’m suggesting will take time and will take some effort that might make you a bit uncomfortable, but that’s okay! Putting yourself out there is never an easy thing to do. It makes you feel vulnerable but it can also afford you so many experiences. Do what feels right for you!

Choosing a career can be a really big decision. At some point, you have to choose a path and see how you feel about the first few steps. You never know what a path is like until you’re already on it. Narrow down some of your options and reach out, you might just discover your perfect career.

If you are still looking for your calling in life, come on over to Sokanu.com and take our free career test. We want to help you find a career that's right for you!

About the Author

Renee Masur

Renee Masur is the Community Manager for Sokanu and Island girl living in Vancouver. She loves people and their stories.

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