Ask the intern: What do I do if this career isn’t for me?
Hi Sugar, my name is Katie and I’m a Penn State student currently doing my international internship in Dublin. Although I’m having such a great time, I can’t help but think that I might have picked the wrong career field. I am doing a 6 month internship in consulting. The company is great and I feel like I am learning a lot but I don’t think I want to have a career in this field. I did not expect to feel this way and so now I’m not sure what to do. I don’t want to quit but I’m also worried I might be stuck because I chose the wrong career. Can you give me some advice as to how to deal with this situation positively? -Katie.
Hi Katie, thanks for getting in touch! First of all, I think it’s important that you know this is definitely a more common feeling than you would think. Jobs aren’t always what you expect and even if they are, you can find out that it’s not what you want after all. This isn’t the end of the world and it doesn’t mean you’re stuck in this career forever. In fact, studies show that millennials are a lot more likely to have career changes than previous generations. You’re right that quitting is not the answer. Instead, I recommend taking the steps I’ve listed below.
1. Reflect on your internship
It’s perfectly fine to think you’ve picked the wrong career field as long as you really reflect on why you feel this way. Make a list of the aspects of your role, company and career field that you don’t like. It is also helpful to make a list of all the things you have enjoyed or found rewarding. For example, you might like that every day of your internship is different. But you might not like that all of your work is carried out in a team.
By reflecting in this way, you can start to see where the problem lies. You might just dislike the company culture or your specific role rather than your career field. Or you may consolidate that you need to change your career path.
2. Think about your skill set
If you do decide to change career paths, you may feel like your internship experience is a waste. However, this isn’t true. Any professional experience is worthwhile because you’re gaining transferable skills. Make it part of your daily routine to note down the tasks you carry out. Later, list the skills that your different roles have helped you to develop. These are what you can list on your resume and take with you to your next professional position. A lot of them, such as time management, IT skills and problem solving, will be useful no matter what career you choose.
3. Ask to do different things
There are so many different parts to a company. If you’re not enjoying your role, you could ask to gain insight into different areas, for example HR or marketing. This way you can get an idea of other roles you could be interested in. You can also ask your boss to be involved in different projects or tasks. You may find that there are parts of your field that actually really interest you, especially as consulting is such a broad field. As an added bonus, your boss will appreciate that you’re being so proactive and enthusiastic.
4. Get a game plan
After taking everything into consideration, you’ll have a better idea of exactly how you feel and what you want. Now is the time to make a game plan. Think about what career you ideally want, whether it be in the same field as your internship or something different. You can consider your reflections about your current job, your new skill set and your insight into new areas. Then consider how you can head in the right direction. Think about how you can relate your current job to what you want in the future. You can also consider what you could be doing in your spare time to improve your candidacy for roles in this field.
6. Enjoy your experience
The last and most important step is to enjoy what you’re doing now! Try not to let your worries about your future career ruin your international internship experience. Exploring life in a new city and reaping the benefits of immersing yourself in a new culture are equally as important as professional development. Use this unique chance to travel, potentially learn a language and make new friendships.
Now you know what to do if you ever think ‘I chose the wrong career’, apply today to launch your career abroad.
2. based on My Office, by Sean McGrath, CC-by-SA 2.0