What colleges won’t tell you about careers.

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I had an interesting conversation with some of my fellow senior classmates recently. We were all talking about what we wanted to do when we graduate – a topic that is force fed to us like lamb chops to a vegetarian, so it’s no wonder that we never have a worthy response.

“I want to do something in advertising.”

“I want to do something in public relations.”

“I want to do something in business.”

That’s all well and good, but then I asked, “Yeah, but what do you want to do?” The blank stares commenced.

This is the question, it seems, that most colleges fail to bring attention to. What do you really want to do, and what possibilities are actually out there? (If it weren’t for the glory of Google, I would have never known that a career in Ice Cream Tasting was a 60k-a-year possibility, but I digress.) I asked my classmates, “what exactly is advertising anyways?” I was shocked that none of them could give a straight answer. The advertising industry, for instance, has several components that can be stretched out in various lengthy directions. Web marketing, social media networking, creative design, web copy, CRM, PPC, SEO and plenty of other complicated abbreviations, I’m sure.

So again, what do you really want to do? Well, most colleges would have you believe that as long as you have a piece of paper in your hand that says you can do it, you’re ready for it all. But I fear that this misleads people into accepting jobs deemed to be socially standard: a doctor, a lawyer, a business person, ect.

F*ck that – I want to be the ice cream taster.

Later, I sat down at an interview for an internship and was asked a question that followed me to every interview following:

“What do you want to do in this business?”

I answered in all honesty, “I don’t know. That’s why I’m here. I want to find out what this field of work has to offer and what I like best about it.” They offered me the position on the spot.

There’s little willingness to explore all the options available, and not because of a lack of care, but because of a lack of realization. Until recently, I didn’t know that you could get paid to tell a business how many ‘clicks’ their website got per month. I knew what I liked, and that was to create digital graphics. But there’s so much more to it that I was ignorant to.

Those who find themselves in a similar position have options and tools to guide them. The internet (duh) has so much to offer. There are several sites that allow any person to get a number of web-based certifications for free! Lynda offers free tutorials on Adobe applications, and Codeacadamy offers free classes for those looking for refreshers on their CSS and HTML. Hubspot is another excellent tool to gain experience in web marketing.

It’s all about prioritizing. You’re in college. You want to have your much-deserved fun. Enjoy your youth, yes, but in moderation. Like junk food; it certainly won’t kill you to grab a Happy Meal once a month, but that’s because you’re moderating your intake. Do the same with your free time, spreading it out among things that will add value to your life. Hell, have your friends collaborate with you on online training if you share the same interests. And, guess what? These little training sessions can get slapped right onto your resume, which stand out like gold freaking stars to any hiring manager.

So, what has helped you on your way to career-dom? Share your story in the comments below!

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