Find a Career You Love! Career Planning Tips for Millennials

Written by Paul Marchildon, on December 3, 2013.


Work. The thing you do to pay off your college loans. But it can be so much more than that. Over 40 percent of you report being underemployed and/or not using your degree in your work. One in three of you say you wish you’d skipped college. You have grown up inundated with the message, “You can do anything you want, be whatever you want.” How’s that working out for you?  It’s not a false bill of sales, though; you can. You just have to be far more strategic about it than any generation has had to before.

As a Millennial, you have to enter a workforce that was designed and built for your parents and grandparents. And you’re competing with them for jobs. Talk about an unfair advantage! But your advantage is being able to redefine what “success” is, and even what “work” is. If we stop thinking about what’s going to pay us the most money and focus on what we are passionate about, happiness – and usually money – follow.

While your interests will change, your skills will develop, and your attitudes will shift, the passions that drive you throughout life and the strengths that will fuel them, are constant – even if unconscious. The trick is to figure out what they are. How do you do this?

  • Do assessments. At the risk of sounding like a high school guidance counselor, assessments can be invaluable tools. Whether informal or formal, you discover more about your strengths, your personality, your passions by digging into them. The VIA Character Strengths assessment is a particularly useful one. Its 240 statements help you hone in on what you’re really good at and what type of situations or environments resonate with you. Whether you learn something new about yourself or reinforce what your intuition already told you, you can target jobs that are most meaningful to you.
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  • Join clubs, teams, go with your parents to work, volunteer, explore. This is the best way to find a career that will be satisfying and rewarding. The University of Waterloo, for instance, has a great program that allows high school students, and their parents, to go to college for a day. They sample campus life, sit in on lectures, and see what it’s really like to be part of that environment. You’ve got to sample life like you sample appetizers.
  • Consider your activities. What do you do when you don’t have to do anything? When are you most productive? What other jobs have you had, and what about them did you like or dislike? Where have you been successful, and where have you failed? Answering these questions helps you start to “narrow” down your options. Narrow – but not limit. You can try things, experiment, but try things and experiment with things that fall into your realm of passion and strengths.

Why bother with all this? Well, say you want to meet people, whether to have someone fun to hang out with or you’re looking for the “one.” You could take a shotgun approach, hit the bars, and hope one of the random people you meet is a match and that no one throws up on your shoes. Or, you could go online, create a profile, enter in your likes and dislikes, and let the algorithm pair you up with compatible people. There’s a much greater likelihood of making a good connection.

You need a strategy. The workplace is not embracing you – yet – with open arms. It’s not sure how to take you, and it’s not sure it wants you. Quite frankly, you have a rough road. But the best way to combat this is to follow your passions, use your strengths, and don’t live up to other people’s definition of success. You get to define that; you get to live it.

Paul Marchildon

Paul Marchildon

A self-proclaimed Leisureologist and Motivational Speaker, Paul Marchildon applies his vast expertise in human engagement to help leaders create more productive, effective organizations. Building on an influential career as a pioneer in employee incentive and loyalty programs, strategic creative communications, social media and mobile marketing, Paul provides insight into the advantages of incorporating a leisure culture in the "work" place. He is past president of Society of Incentive and Travel Executives’ (Site) Canadian Chapter and founder of Atlantis Creative Group (now part of Maritz Canada). He is one of a select group of Canadians who have received the Certified Incentive Travel Executive (CITE) designation.