As full-time videographer for career exploration startup PathSource, Justin Thach has had the unique opportunity to talk with all kinds of people about their career paths, from doctors, lawyers, and CEOs to professional baseball players, animal breeders, and video game designers.
Through these conversations, Thach has gleaned six crucial insights about what makes a successful and genuinely fulfilling career.
1. Be Courageous
After conducting interviews with more than 500 professionals, Thach estimates that more than 50 percent changed the direction of their career path at some point.
Thach himself never created a video until after graduating from college. Initially, he planned to enter the teaching profession. This led to him working at a community college, where he was given the opportunity to shoot and edit his first video. His newfound passion quickly blossomed into a viable career path.
If you discover a new interest or an unexpected opportunity later in life, be open to pursuing it. It’s never too late.
2. Don’t Just Work for the Money
The average person spends more than one-third of their life working, so it’s imperative that you spend your time doing something that means more to you than just a paycheck. A six-figure salary might seem like it should be at least one major driver of career satisfaction, but in the long run, it really isn’t. According to the Harvard Business Review’s list of the top five career regrets, the biggest regret people report is “I wish I hadn’t taken the job for the money.”
3. You Have Many, Many Options
Did you know that you could make a living as a professional beekeeper? Or as a hot air balloon pilot? You are likely only aware of a tiny fraction of the hundreds of careers that might be the perfect fit for you.
As a professional interviewer, Thach has seen the myriad opportunities that are available to people of all skill levels and educational backgrounds. For instance, maybe you dreamed of one day becoming a doctor — until you realized that you couldn’t afford the time and money such a goal requires. What you may not have realized is that there are multiple opportunities in the medical profession aside from being a doctor that offer you the chance to help others. You could instead become a nurse practitioner, a physician’s assistant, or a hospital administrator.
Start investigating the vast world of career possibilities. Pretty soon, you’ll find the job that’s perfect for you.
4. Consider Being Your Own Boss
Throughout his career, Thach has observed that the individuals who are most enthusiastic about their work are those who started their own business or were working to bring their own ideas to life. Venturing out on your own can seem risky, but according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 400,000 new businesses are born each year in the U.S. In the end, seeing your own vision bear fruit can be an incredibly rewarding experience.
5. The Internet Is Your Friend
Some sites even provide courses that offer degrees or certificates upon completion. For instance, if you want to pursue a career in marketing, but lack formal marketing education, UC Berkeley Extension offers online certificate-earning courses like “Introduction to Marketing,” “Creating An Advertising Campaign,” and “Implementing a Brand Vision,” all of which could help you break into the field.
6. Follow Your Dream. Seriously.
In every single interview, Thach asks, “What do you wish you had known when you were first starting out in your career that you know now?”
By far, the most popular piece of advice he hears is to follow your dream. While this advice may seem cliché, that might be because it is simply the best way to achieve true job satisfaction and success.
However, if your appetite for risk-taking is low, that’s okay, too! Not everyone is able to take financial risks such as starting their own business or chasing their dreams of Broadway stardom. Many people dip their toes in the water by freelancing in their spare time. Others have found lucrative outlets for their creativity on sites like Etsy or eBay. In reality, there are many ways to test the waters.
Whatever your dream, someone has probably already made it a reality for themselves. Now it’s your turn.
Rubina is marketing manager at PathSource, a career exploration company that aims to transform lives by connecting people to their ideal career paths. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and all things food-related (including cooking it, eating it, and watching reality shows that revolve around it).
Brandon is a senior at the University of Minnesota, where he studies strategic communication and Spanish. Following a string of odd jobs, including waiting tables at not one, but two Indian restaurants, he now finds himself interning for PathSource as their social media and marketing intern.