Career Tip of the Month

Top 10 Career Myths

Myth 1 - There is one perfect job for me.

Fact: Many occupations have the potential to satisfy your career goals. Once you have clearly defined what you are looking for in a career, you will find that there are a number of occupations that contain those criteria. For example, you may want to "help people in a medical setting." There are dozens of occupations in the healthcare field (e.g., physician, nurse, physical therapist, respiratory therapist, medical lab technologist, veterinarian, or pharmacist). As you explore each option further, you can compare what they offer in terms of advantages and disadvantages and find the one best suited to you and your present circumstances.

Myth 2 - My major is going to lead to my career.

Fact: Most employers care more about your work-related experience (e.g., part-time jobs and internships) and the skills that you have obtained than they do about your major. Unless you are planning to enter an area that requires a specific degree or skills, such as education or mechanical engineering, there may be several paths that will lead you to the same job. One major can lead to many different careers, and one career can be reached through many different majors. In fact, many people find themselves working in fields that are only remotely related to their original majors as they acquire more work experience, take additional training or make job or career changes.

Myth 3 - I will have only one career in my lifetime.

Fact: Career planning is a process that continues throughout your lifetime. You will probably re-visit your career plans several times during your life. Nowadays the typical person entering the work force will have as many as six or seven different jobs by the time he or she retires. People continue to change throughout life and so does the job market. Many occupations that will be available within your lifetime may not even exist yet! Today?s economic climate requires that employees be flexible and be able to adapt to whatever changes the future marketplace will bring.

Myth 4 - Liberal Arts majors are usually unemployable after college.

Fact: Liberal arts majors usually have valuable training in areas such as interpersonal communication, writing, research, and critical thinking. These are called transferable skills, i.e., skills that are learned in one area that can be readily utilized in a wide range of other areas. Liberal Arts majors are employed in a wide range of careers, even though the job title may not be directly related to the title of their academic major.

Myth 5 - Most students know their major and career goals when they enter college.

Fact: Some people may have a major or career in mind when they enter college and a few may actually stick with their original goals. However, the majority of entering college students change their minds about majors and careers several times before graduation. In fact, the average student who enters college with a declared major changes it three to five times.

Myth 6 - If I wait long enough, luck will eventually bring me to the right career.

Fact: Most people will benefit from a plan - a full investigation and thorough consideration of different occupations. It is unlikely that you will just "bump into" the occupation that will perfectly match your skills and interests or satisfy your most important values. The more information you gather about yourself and the occupations you are considering, the more likely it is you will make a wise career decision. It is true that some things beyond your control will influence your life, but you must take an active role to determine your own fate. Look around you - those people who are unhappy in their careers are usually the ones who just left it up to chance.

Myth 7 - Most people have a solid understanding of careers and the work world.

Fact: Most people's knowledge of occupations is often incomplete. Most of what passes as knowledge is really based upon stereotypes. The media may depict police work as an exciting occupation dedicated to putting the bad guys behind bars. But they are less likely to show the hours spent doing paperwork, directing traffic, or responding to domestic disputes where there is no clearly defined "bad guy." Be sure that you do your research so get a balanced and accurate picture of the occupations that you are considering.

Myth 8 - Career assessments will tell me exactly what career is right for me.

Fact: Assessments can provide you with valuable, additional information that can help you narrow down the pool of possible careers. No test, however, can predict or tell you what to do with your life. Assessments take a sample of certain kinds of knowledge or attitudes and draw conclusions based on the sample. Use well-known, standardized assessments and review your results with a career counselor who is knowledgeable in interpreting the results.

Myth 9 - I should choose an occupation based on my strongest skills.

Fact: It is risky to consider only one aspect of who you are for a career decision. What you enjoy and what is important to you about life and work should also be taken into consideration. Just because you are good at something does not necessarily mean that you will enjoy doing that activity for a living.

Myth 10 - The best place for me to start looking for an occupation is where employers are doing lots of hiring right now.

Fact: The job market fluctuates constantly. Take for example the boom in the late 90's that led to a bust just a few years later, rendering thousands of workers without a job. Employment opportunities can change dramatically as a function of economic conditions, advances in technology, the labor supply, and even as a function of geographic location. College students, who jump on this employment band-wagon without researching the occupation's projections for future growth, may be disappointed after years of training because they are competing with thousands of people with the same idea. This kind of changing demand and supply situation can happen with any occupation. Job outlook trends can be useful information if used cautiously and not as the only factor in your career choice.