By Nathan Page Ph.D.

How to Find a Career You Love

For most people finding a career you love is challenging, daunting, and overwhelming.  It’s not until you find something you know is right, that these feelings fade into a sense of relief, satisfaction, and recognition that the search was a worthwhile endeavor.  To help you overcome the initial rush of panic, here are the steps you should take to find a career you love.

1. Explore Your Interests:

When identifying a career, exploring your interests is a key first step in finding a career you love.  Your interests are the activities and content areas that captivate your attention, are pleasurable to you and you enjoy doing in your free time, and the topics you like to investigate.  By exploring your interests, you can identify career paths that align with your passions.

To explore your interests, think about the activities you enjoy doing in your free time.  These could be hobbies such as reading, writing, painting, playing sports, or volunteering.  Consider the subjects you enjoy learning about, whether it’s science, history, art, or humanities.  Reflect on the skills and talents you possess, and how you can use them to pursue your interests. 

An efficient way to explore your interests is to complete a career interest inventory.   These assessments typically take less than 30 minutes to complete and provide a comprehensive overview of how your interests fit with different career fields.  They provide reports that typically show a rank ordering of how your interests match with several occupations.  You can quickly ascertain the occupations and career fields that most directly fit your interests.  They also show the occupations and career fields that have interests that are quite different from your own.  This helps guide you toward the occupations that you will enjoy and identify the occupations that you are least likely to enjoy. 

In general, individuals that choose a college major and career field in alignment with their interests:

  • Have greater satisfaction in their careers.
  • Have higher Educational Program and College Degree completion rates.
  • Have higher GPAs in their major field of study.
  • Find it easier to find jobs after completing college.
  • Are less likely to change careers over the years.
  • Tend to advance faster in their careers.
  • Tend to make more money over their careers.

You may want to work with a career counselor when interpreting your interest inventory results.  Career counselors can provide advice on job strategies, resume and cover letter writing, and interviewing skills.  They can also provide resources and referrals to educational and training programs, professional organizations, and networking events.

Once you have the general direction of your interest areas, you should further research careers that match your passions.  Look for job descriptions and requirements that resonate with you.  You can also reach out to professionals in fields that interest you and ask for their advice on how to pursue a career in that area.  Try to find internships in areas that you find appealing and apply to different types of internships over 2 or 3 years to gain work variety and experience. 

Another option is to find careers that allow you to integrate your hobbies and interests into your work.  For example, if you’re passionate about music, you could look for a career in the music industry or consider teaching music to younger students.  If you enjoy photography, find areas where you can use these skills to get feedback on your work and improve your skills, for example live action shots of your schools sports teams. 

In summary, exploring your interests is an essential step towards finding a career that you will enjoy and find fulfilling. By identifying careers that allow you to pursue your passions and interests, you can increase your chances of finding a career that aligns with your values and brings you a sense of purpose.

2. Consider Your Values:

When it comes to finding a career that truly resonates with you, it’s important to take some time to reflect on your personal values.  Your values are the beliefs, principles, and ideals that are most important to you, and they can help guide your decision-making and career goals.  Understanding and identifying one’s personal values can help you make better decisions, set meaningful goals, and live a more fulfilling life.

To start, think about what matters most to you and how do those things impact your life.  What are the causes or issues that you are most passionate about?  What kind of impact do you want to have on the world?  Make a list of your values and rank them in order of importance.  This can help you prioritize your career goals and find opportunities that align with your personal beliefs.

Values frequently fall into one of the following six areas:

  • Achievement.  Being results-oriented, using your strengths in your career, and obtaining a sense of accomplishment from their work.
  • Independence.  Working independently, making your own decisions, and being solely responsible for your own work products.
  • Recognition.  Obtaining recognition and rewards from work results, including status, advancement opportunities, and the opportunity to lead others.
  • Relationships.  Providing a service to others, including collaborative work environments, providing social services, and supporting high ethical standards.
  • Support.  Working in an environment that provides strong support in the accomplishment of work, including company policies, effective training, and strong managerial support.
  • Working Conditions.  Having good working conditions, job security, and variety of pleasant working conditions.

Once you have a clear understanding of your values, explore how they can relate to different career paths.  For example, if Independence is a core value for you, consider pursuing a career in the arts, design, or marketing.  If you value Relationships, you may be drawn to careers in non-profit organizations, social work, or community activism.  Matching values with your career field can be critically important for some as it helps drive cultural fit, happiness and workplace performance.

Remember, your values may evolve and change over time.  Thus, it’s important to check in with yourself from time to time to make sure that your career goals are still aligned with your personal beliefs.

3. Identify Your Strengths:

Identifying your strengths is an important step in finding a career in which you will be successful.  Consequently, take a moment to think about your skills, talents, abilities, and behaviors that come naturally to you or that you have developed over time through education or work experience.  These strengths are unique to you, no other person shares your unique combination of skills, talents, abilities, and behaviors.  By identifying your strengths, you can be directed towards finding a career in which you will be successful.

To identify your strengths, start by reflecting on your experiences and considering the tasks or projects you have found fulfilling in the past.  Think about the skills that come naturally to you.  These could be technical skills such as writing, developing a computer program, or they may be related to your behaviors such as communication, critical thinking, or adaptability.  Furthermore, think about the tasks or projects you have enjoyed in the past and why you found them fulfilling.  Finally, ask others such as siblings, teachers, friends, and coworkers for feedback on what they see as your strengths and how they think you could best use those strengths in a career.

Once you have identified your strengths, consider how they could be used in different career paths.  For example, if you have strong communication skills, you may be a good fit for careers in public relations, marketing, or sales.  Alternatively, if you have a knack for problem-solving and enjoy deep analysis, a career in engineering or project management could be a good fit.

Overall, recognizing your strengths is very helpful in identifying a career in which you will excel.

4. Conduct Research:

When it comes to finding a career that suits you, research is crucial.  By researching topics of interest, you will gain a deeper understanding of the industry, assess job prospects, and evaluate potential earnings.  With a well-rounded understanding of your desired career path, you can make informed decisions and increase your chances of long-term success.

To begin your research, reach out to people who work in your desired industry; a career counselor may have resources to help you with this.  Attend networking events and read articles to learn more about the day-to-day work and qualifications required.  Additionally, explore potential job prospects, such as employment statistics, salary ranges, and career advancement opportunities.  Great free resources for this include and  Digging into these resources can provide valuable insights into the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of the job, as well as the skills and qualifications that are required.

By conducting thorough research, you can get a better sense of each potential career path and determine whether it aligns with your interests, skills, and goals.  This can help you make informed decisions about your future and set you on a path to a fulfilling and rewarding career.

5. Gain Experience:

Gaining experience is a vital step in discovering a career that you will love.  Regardless of whether you are new to the workforce or seeking a career shift, gaining experience is key to gaining insight into a particular field and determining if it aligns with your passions, interests, and behaviors.

There are numerous ways to gain experience in your desired field.  One option is to find internships within areas of interest.  Internships provide a chance for individuals to learn about the day-to-day workings of a particular profession and develop skills that are crucial to success in the field.  In addition to the hands-on experience, internships allow individuals to make important professional connections and network with potential employers or colleagues.  They also give individuals the chance to test out different career paths and determine if a particular field is the right fit for them before committing to a full-time position.

Another option is to volunteer for an organization that resonates with your interests.  Volunteering can provide opportunities to work on projects and tasks that you enjoy, will help develop your skills, help develop your network, and acquire hands-on experience in your desired field.

By gaining experience in your desired field, you can gain a deeper understanding of the work, develop new skills, and build a network of contacts in the industry.  Ultimately, this can help you stand out from other job candidates and increase your likelihood of finding a career that you love.

6. Set Goals:

When it comes to finding a career you love, setting goals is an important step.  After identifying a potential career path, it’s important to create specific and realistic goals that will guide you towards that career.  For instance, if you aspire to become a graphic designer, your goals may involve obtaining a degree or certification in graphic design, creating an impressive portfolio of your work, and building connections with professionals in the field.  Likewise, if you want to become an accountant, your goals could include obtaining a degree in accounting and passing the CPA Examination. 

By setting goals, you can maintain your motivation and focus as you work towards your desired career.  Goals also provide a way to track your progress and celebrate your accomplishments.  It’s essential to establish both short-term and long-term goals, and to divide larger goals into smaller, more manageable steps.  This approach can help you feel less overwhelmed and more confident about achieving your goals and career aspirations.

7. Be Open-Minded:

Remember that finding a career you love is a process and may involve some trial and error.  Sometimes, you may need to explore various career paths to discover what aligns best with your aspirations.  This requires being receptive to exploring new opportunities and adjusting your course if a particular career path is not a good fit for you.

Being open-minded also entails embracing risks and stepping out of your comfort zone.  It may take some courage to pursue a career that falls outside of your current expertise or to follow a passion that might not seem like a conventional career path.  Nevertheless, keeping an open mind can lead to unique opportunities and experiences that you may have never considered otherwise.

In the end, being open-minded means being adaptable to change.  The career landscape is constantly evolving, and it’s crucial to be open to change and growth to find a career that is truly fulfilling.

8. Pros and Cons of Finding a Career You Love:

There are a number of benefits that have been backed by research when you find a job that you love and that is aligned with your interests, behaviors, skills, and abilities.  Some of these are:

  • Increased job satisfaction:  You are more satisfied when you love your job.
  • Improved work performance: Passion for your job typically improves performance.
  • Higher income potential:  Loving your work and putting in extra effort often led to promotions and higher wages.
  • Better work-life balance:  Loving your job makes it easier to balance your life.
  • Greater sense of purpose:  Pursuing a career you love can give you a sense of purpose and direction.
  • Improved mental health:  Enjoying your work often has a positive impact on your mental health and well-being.

While there are many benefits to finding a career you love, there are also some potential disadvantages to consider. For example:

  • Difficult to achieve:  Identifying and pursuing a career that you truly love can be challenging and may require extensive skills and experience.
  • Limited job opportunities:  Some careers may not be in demand and have limited job opportunities.
  • Risk of burnout:  When you are passionate about your work, it can be easy to overwork and experience burnout, fatigue, and stress.
  • Financial concerns:  Pursuing a career you love may not always lead to a high-paying job.
  • Difficulty separating work and personal life:  When you love your job, it can be difficult to disconnect and separate your work from your personal life.

This is a broad outline to help you get started in finding a career you love.  Remember that the process may take time and require some patience and perseverance.  But with the right mindset and approach, you can find a career that is fulfilling and meaningful to you.

More Blogs

The Power of Interests
Why assess Career Interests?
Who can benefit from completing a career assessment?