Advice on Advice
Choosing an educational or career path is difficult, especially when you try to do it alone. But asking for advice can sometimes make things more confusing. When asking for opinions, it’s important to know what – and who – to ask. This guide will help you to collect the kind of advice that will help, not hinder, your decision making.
1. Think about who really knows you best. You might automatically think, “Mom!” or “Grandpa Joe!” – but that may not be the case. Loving someone or being close to them doesn’t automatically mean that they know you best. Does your Grandpa Joe see you the way you are, or the way he would like you to be? He might think you’d make an amazing mathematics professor when, really, you can’t count and love ballet.
2. Consider why people make the suggestions they make. Does your Aunt Louise want you to be an orchestra musician because she knows that you love to play violin; or is it because she never realized her own dream of playing in a symphony? Make sure that the suggestions you get are tailored to you, and not to the person suggesting them.
3. Interview people and ask work-related questions. Ask people what they do (or did) and find out what their jobs were like. Ask family members about their jobs – why they chose them, what they like and don’t like, or what a typical day looks like. People are your best resource: don’t be afraid to ask around to get a better idea of what field might most interest you.
4. Do your homework. If you already have an idea of what you’d like to do, research it before asking opinions on it. If you’d like to work in accounting, you may not want to ask the opinions of your performing arts family members unless you’ve done a bit of background research. People often react to jobs that they think are “boring” or “difficult” without considering whether or not they’d be right for you. Doing research can also help you when asking questions about other peoples’ jobs.
The right advice can help you to make a career decision that you feel good about. The wrong advice, on the other hand, can do the opposite. The most important thing to remember is that at the end of the day, the only person doing your job is you. Your cousin Fred may love you, but he won’t be coming to work with you every day. Take advice with a grain of salt; use it to inform your decision making, but remember that your decisions are yours to make.