Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Health Care Careers You May Not Have Considered

Even if you don't want to be a doctor or a nurse, you shouldn't overlook the health care industry when planning your career. With an aging population, this is a fast-growing field where you are almost guaranteed a job. Consider the following (less obvious) careers in health care:

1. Audiologist

Audiologists evaluate hearing, diagnose hearing disorders, and fit patients with hearing aids. They may also provide auditory training and perform research. Patience is an important characteristic for an audiologist to have because you will be working with elderly patients and children. In addition, you may work with other professionals (speech pathologists, physicians, etc.) to plan a patient's treatment. An undergraduate degree in communication sciences/disorders will provide the necessary coursework for admittance to an audiology graduate program. A clinical doctoral degree is becoming the standard requirement for audiologists. See The American Academy of Audiology's website for more information.

2. Optometrist

Optometrists diagnose and treat diseases and conditions related to the eye. They perform vision tests and prescribe corrective lenses. Although optometrists do not perform surgery, they may prescribe medication to treat eye conditions if state law allows. Those wishing to obtain a doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree will need to take a variety science courses as undergraduates in order to be admitted to one of the sixteen optometry schools in the United States. The Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry provides information about optometry education.

3. Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists provide rehabilitative therapy to emotionally, mentally, and physically disabled patients. Therapy involves learning daily living skills that helps patients lead productive and independent lives. They may also help patients compensate for a permanent loss of function. Occupational therapists work in schools, hospitals, nursing care facilities, and clinics. A master's degree is required in order to practice. See the American Occupational Therapy Association for more details.

4. Radiologic Technologist

Radiologic technologists perform diagnostic imaging examinations and administer radiation therapy. This not only requires knowledge of anatomy, proper patient positioning, and safety protocols, but also an empathetic and caring nature. See the American Society of Radiologic Technologists for more information about the profession and education requirements.

5. Medical Laboratory Technologist

Medical Laboratory Technologists (also known as clinical laboratory technologists) perform laboratory tests for diagnosis and treatment of diseases. They analyze blood, urine, and other bodily fluids, looking for abnormalities. Laboratory technologists also analyze blood samples to test for blood type and compatibility for transfusion, among other things. If you are interested in science, enjoy working with laboratory equipment, and have an investigative personality type, this may be a good career choice for you. See the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science for more information.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More Teenagers Consulting Professional Career Counselors

I recently read this article from MSNBC which talks about the trend of high-school teenagers visiting professional career planners. I think this is an excellent idea and wish I had consulted a career planner before I entered college. Even my high school guidance counselor did not offer help with career planning and the career counselors I consulted at my university read off the Occupational Outlook Handbook website, which I could have done myself at home.

Some may object to the practice of career counseling for teens, but counselors do not give one career that you must pursue. Instead, they offer many suggestions based on one’s interests, personality, and skills. They also talk with the client about their goals, values and desires. Testing doesn’t limit a person, it only gives suggestions to consider. With a few ideas in mind, students can then determine which field is best after they have taken a variety of courses and talked with professionals in the careers they may wish to pursue.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What is Your Ideal Work Environment?

Where you work is just as important as the career field you choose when it comes to career satisfaction. For example, I prefer to work in a small company and I'm willing to take a smaller salary if it means working in a comfortable environment. When choosing your ideal work environment, consider the following factors:

Large vs. Small
A large company can probably offer a larger salary and more impressive benefits. However, you may prefer a smaller setting where you feel more connected to your coworkers and more invested in the success of the business.

Formal vs. Casual
Formal environments often require business attire and implement many rules and regulations. Casual environments are more flexible about attire, work hours, and other factors.

Fast-paced vs. Laid-back
If you work well under pressure, then a fast-paced environment might be right for you. However, some people need a calm setting in order to do their best work.

Traditional vs. Innovative
A traditional company will have set procedures and standards of operation while creativity will be highly valued in an innovative company.

There are many factors to consider when assessing work environment. Your coworkers and supervisors will have a major impact on your happiness at work. Get to know what you want in a work environment before you look for jobs. Then, target companies that are likely to be a good fit for you.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Passion and Your Career

The Career Encouragement Blog recently featured a great post about the problem with passion. The article makes some valid points and I'm glad someone finally gave realistic advice about passion and career. I often read about how to make a career out of one's passion and how your career should be your passion. This is great if you are exceptionally talent and lucky, or if you just happen to be passionate about a very in-demand field.

Unfortunately, most of us cannot make a living off of our passions. For one reason, their are several others trying to make a living doing the same thing and the ratio of applicants to job openings is too large. If you want to try your luck and don't mind the uncertainty, go for it. If you want job security and a steady income, try to find a career that fits your personality and values. As I've mentioned before, your career should interest you at least a little, but it doesn't have to be your number one interest and it doesn't have to be your passion.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Day in the Life

I recently found a great site (http://www.vault.com/nr/ht_list.jsp?ht_type=1) that gives a detailed accounts of what it's like to work in various professions. There are a variety of occupations included, from Alaskan fisherman to research scientist. If you are researching careers, this is a great place to start.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What Employers Want in an Entry-Level Candidate

After interviewing with a variety of organizations, I have noticed a few trends in the interview questions and am now familiar with what employers want to see in a job candidate.

1. Volunteer Work Ideally, you'll find a regular volunteer activity that you can continue throughout your college career. Examples include tutoring, working at an animal shelter, and volunteering at a food bank. In addition, you should also try to participate other events such as fund raisers that occur less frequently.

2. Leadership Roles Interviewers frequently ask about leadership experience. Serving as a club officer or in another leadership capacity will prepare you for interviews and will set you apart from other candidates.

3. Teamwork Almost all jobs today involve teamwork. Job interviewers will likely ask you if you work well in teams, and will want proof that you have handled yourself well in a group situation.

4. Internships/Job Shadowing Interviewers want to know that you are familiar with the industry or type of job you are applying for. As a recent graduate, you will set yourself apart if you have some experience already. If you are unable to find an internship, ask someone in your chosen profession if you can shadow them to get a feel for the job and to see if it is something you would enjoy.

One of my questions for my last interviewer was what characteristics her ideal candidate would have. She told me that the ideal candidate would be well-rounded and would be able to balance several responsibilities at one time. Participating in student organizations, part-time jobs, and volunteer work will demonstrate your ability to handle many responsibilities and will show potential employers of your diverse skills.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Four Self-Improvement Books for Your Career and Your Life

I've read many self-help books, but only a few have stayed with me long after reading the book. The following four books have proven most useful and memorable to me.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

If you are a chronic worrier or suffer from anxiety, this book will offer practical advice about overcoming your worries. My favorite aspect of the book is the stories about real people that overcame their worries to achieve success and happiness.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Establishing and maintaining good relationships is probably the most important factor in having a happy and successful life. The advice found in How to Win Friends and Influence People boils down to treating others as you would want to be treated.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
by Stephen Covey

The seven habits Covey mentions are not just important for business leaders, but also for students, job-seekers, and all employees. You’ll also find advice on time management and effective leadership

What Color is Your Parachute?
by Richard Nelson Bolles

What makes this book a classic is its unconventional career planning and job search advice. While reading the book, you'll create a diagram that pulls together everything you want in a job. Keep this with you as you plan your career and search for a job.