How, in this challenging and extremely dynamic economy, are young adults supposed to pick a field of work and carve out a career?
Conventional wisdom, go to as selective a college as possible and focus on pragmatic coursework, is woefully incomplete. Among other things, it leaves out a critical component, self-understanding.
For many young adults, choosing a path is understandably overwhelming. For anyone feeling overwhelmed it will help to first figure out what type of worker one is. There are two basic types—entrepreneurs able and willing to find customers for their products or services and everyone else who agrees to work for well-established employers with built-in customers.
My students, the non-entrepreneurs, are preparing to be teachers or nurses. Banking on school districts and hospitals to provide a steady stream of “customers”, they’re willing to earn modest salaries in exchange for greater job security and more family-friendly work hours.
Of course once they start working, some entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs will switch paths with a teacher starting her own independent school or a business owner deciding to work for a well established company.
To determine which type you are take enough part-time jobs and internships so that you can meaningfully compare and contrast the two. Shadow entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs and talk to them about the ins and outs of their work. Take time to think and journal about your experiences and to talk to significant others about your impressions of both.
Figuring out whether to start down the entrepreneur or non-entrepreneur fork in the career road should help make an overwhelming process more manageable.