Career Myths

As you explore potential careers avoid making decisions based on some of these common myths:

I must jump on the same track as my friends at Penn

There are many other rewarding and satisfying careers aside from law, medicine, investment banking and consulting. Evaluating potential careers can be an exciting process if you fully explore all the possibilities and make a decision based on what would offer you the most satisfaction. While it's a challenge not to succumb to peer pressure, remember that it's your future.

My major determines my career choices

Many employers are looking for qualities and skills that are not directly related to your major. Motivation, strong skills in organization and writing and the ability to problem solve are just a few examples of what employers value. Even in the more directed areas of study like Engineering and Business, students choose careers that don't necessarily correlate with their major. Take a look at the recent career surveys of graduates from your school and you can see for yourself that a major often does not translate into a specific job.

There is only one right career for me

Most people are capable of performing well in at least two to three different professional fields. The trick is to develop a good understanding of your values, skills, interests and personality and then explore those careers that best fit your profile at this point in your life. As you acquire more experience, your values and interests and ideas about a career may change. A career doesn't always follow a logical progression so avoid thinking that the road you choose to take at this point in your life will lead you down a rigid path.

Career Choices are Irreversible

Many people change careers or jobs at least three times in their lives and it's likely in the future that your generation will make even more career changes. If it turns out that you don't like your job or the specific career field, it is possible to change directions. Sometimes specific skills developed in one job are highly valued in another field. Many Penn graduates tend to work for approximately three to five years and then pursue graduate or professional school as a way to enhance their skills and abilities or to change careers.

Success is directly related to money and status

Money and status are very appealing and there is nothing wrong in wanting to achieve these goals. However, be careful not to compromise your values as you consider potential careers. Try to balance your salary requirements with a career that you feel confident will utilize your skills and abilities. For some people making a contribution to society is more attractive than earning a large income. As you evaluate career choices, think carefully about what success means to you.

It's abnormal to feel anxious about making career decisions

A career decision reflects a major life transition. It's human nature to question our decisions and to doubt the outcome. For most college students, a career decision is stressful. As you assess your career goals and begin the arduous task of decision making, take advantage of the most valuable resource at Career Services, career counseling. Our staff will support you through this very important phase of your career development. Whether you are at the initial phase of choosing a career, researching the possibilities or ready to hit the road with your job search, make an appointment with a counselor who can answer your questions or discuss your concerns.