According to Forbes, the majority of Americans are unhappy in their current job. That means the vast majority are miserable day in and day out. We at Career in STEM think one of the main reasons people end up in jobs they hate is because they truly don’t know what the job is going to be like. Ever go to a movie because the commercial looked cool, only to realize it was not that great when you actually saw it in person? Careers can be like that too!

Here is the key to finding your dream job…

just get out there!

By simply trying different things and finding careers you like, you will put yourself on the right path to your future. And the time to experiment with different jobs is NOW, while you are still in school!

If you’re a middle or high schooler – or even a college student – chances are you have to do some type of field experience (job shadow or internship) before you graduate. You’re probably wondering why it’s so important to do this. You’ll work once you’re done with school, right? Why do some temporary work just you can ‘get a feel for the workforce’ when you could be playing Fortnite!?

Seeing is believing, and careers are no different. When it comes to deciding what you want to do for your future career, a first-hand experience will help you learn what jobs really interest you – or do NOT interest you!

If you have a job shadow or internship requirement that you need to fulfill, a good place to start is thinking about what interests you have. Do you like the idea of caring for people? Then nursing might be right for you. Love the great outdoors? There are plenty of outdoorsy STEM jobs out there! Figure out what you like, and then go experience a day in the life of that career.

Take Nathan for example. Nathan was a high school student in the summer of 2018. Completing an internship was a graduation requirement for his school. He worked at Smoke Guard – an electronics business that focuses on smoke containment – under the tutelage of Rob, a full-time worker. Nathan knew the General Manager, and was able to contact his school’s Work Based Learning Coordinator.

Rob taught Nathan the ropes of Smoke Guard, helping him with troubleshooting circuit boards, repairing Smoke Guard products, and coding. During his time at Smoke Guard, Nathan learned hard skills such as soldering, using an oscilloscope and multimeter, and computer programming. He also learned soft skills such as being more organized and responsible for his workspace, developing creativity to find “solutions for unusual technical problems”, and becoming more detail-oriented. When it came to working, Rob had one solid motto: “Write everything down that we do so we can repeat the testing, keeping good notes is critical to success. We have to run experiments and if we fail we have to try again and again.”

Not only did Nathan develop hard and soft skills, but his work also helped Smoke Guard. During his time there, Nathan identified over 200 issues with the circuit boards he tested. The circuit boards were a new product that needed to be tested and fine-tuned, so Nathan’s work helped make Smoke Guard’s new product – now used by hospitals, colleges and countless businesses – the best it could possibly be.

Nathan credits his internship to helping him “narrow down career options” and figure out what career paths would be best for him. And that’s what internships and job shadows are all about!

When you have a firsthand, hands-on experience with a job, it gives you a better idea of what career you are best suited for. Plus it builds your resume with real skills and quality experiences, making it easier to find a job. Now get out there!