What Should I Do With My Life?

by Beth Hendler-Grunt, founder and president of Next Great Step and author of “The Next Great Step: The Parents’ Guide to Launching Your New Grad Into a Career

Most young adults start their search by creating a resume or applying for jobs online. But that approach is skipping the most important step in the process. They need to answer the question, “What do you actually want to do?” This query brings out angst and stress because many young adults have no idea what they want to do. It doesn’t matter that they had a specific major or part-time jobs throughout their college career. Grads are stuck — not only because they are overwhelmed with how to create the right resume, or network effectively, but because they have no idea what field or job they want to pursue. This makes the job search seem insurmountable at times.

I see it every day, students who chose their college majors driven by monetary aspirations, parental influence, and even pressure to be in “popular” industries (as deemed by their peers). They end up completely disconnected from their own interests, abilities, or real-world applications. They say things like, “I think actuarial science is where you make money and I have to make money, so that’s where I’m going to go…” yet their skills or passions don’t align with that field.

Or, “My mother and my father are lawyers so I guess I need to be a lawyer. I don’t know if I really want that, but I’m doing poli sci.”

Or, “My friends are doing engineering so I suppose I will, too.”

Students and grads say, “I have to have this figured out and have a clearly mapped out plan because everyone else does.” Or “I just wasted four years of school.” It’s okay. It’s completely normal to not have it figured out. This feeling of being stuck can be overcome with a little patience, practice, and persistence.

Often grads and their parents will look for a personality assessment like the Myers Briggs test or the personal assessment tool like DiSC, to tell them what to pursue. If people want to use them, that’s great. There are a lot of free online assessments out there as well.

People have been trained to believe that testing will help narrow their focus on what to pursue. It can give some helpful information but it’s not a critical or defining step in your child’s job search process. What we’ve found is that while these tests can give some insight, until a young adult learns firsthand what real people actually do for a living, no assessment can help them determine where they want to be. Instead, clarity on their own skills in conjunction with informational interviewing and networking conversations help our young clients determine what they might want to move toward professionally.

If you would like to learn more about how Next Great Step supports young adults land the job they deserve, we welcome the opportunity to speak with you via a complimentary consultation.


Beth Hendler-Grunt

Beth Hendler-Grunt is founder and president of Next Great Step. She is a dynamic leader, advisor and facilitator who has extensive experience consulting with startups, Fortune 500 firms, universities and individuals. Hendler-Grunt leverages techniques and insights from hiring managers and CEOs and brings those secrets to students to help them stand out and get the job. She is author of “The Next Great Step“.


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