4 Common Mistakes People Make When Choosing Careers (And how to avoid them!)

By: Sebastian Leung

Some people are born knowing what they want to do. They want to become a doctor because they like working in science, or maybe they enjoy numbers and want to become accountants. Some people have a life-changing moment where they suddenly realize what they want to pursue as a career, and set themselves on that path. But maybe you’re none of these people, and you simply can’t decide on what you want to do for your career. There are so many choices! Here are a few things to avoid when trying to decide on a career. Even if you know what you want to do, this list can help you avoid making the wrong choice.

Picking something randomly

This may seem obvious, but sometimes people really don’t know what they want to do so they take whatever path is easiest and whatever will pay the bills. Even if you really don’t know what you want to do, try to set a deadline for yourself and focus on figuring out what interests you by the deadline. This way, you’ll eventually find a job that you enjoy doing instead of working at a job that you hate for the rest of your life.

Going after money

Many people pursue after a job or industry because of the prospects of the earning potential. While money is important, it shouldn’t be the #1 criteria when choosing a career. Doing this will most likely lead to an unhappy career and life; even if you’re making lots of money. Try to find a balance between good pay and a fulfilling job. Ultimately, this will lead to the most happiness.

Doing what others have picked for you

Not to negate all the wonderful advice people around you provide, but they aren’t always right. Try to really think about what matters to you as an individual and what you hope to achieve in your professional goals. Understanding their perspective is important as they are trying to help you succeed. In the end, it is your career and the choice to decide what you want to do. Try to pick something that will make you happy and something you won’t regret doing later on. Follow your dreams.

Waiting for the “perfect” opportunity

While you don’t want to just take any job or career path that is in front of you, don’t reject a job offer just because it’s not exactly what you want to do. There’s almost never going to be the perfect opportunity. Waiting for the perfect job will lead to frustration and lead to unemployment in most cases. So when a good opportunity presents itself, take advantage of it!


Still not sure what to do? Feel free to email or make an appointment with our fantastic team at Career Development at Macaulay Honors College. You can email Gianina Chrisman at Gianina.Chrisman@mhc.cuny.edu or Jamie Ruden at Jamie.Ruden@mhc.cuny.edu.

Interested in writing a blog for the Career Development blog? It’s open to Macaulay students and alums. If you would like to contribute or have any questions, feel free to email Jamie.Ruden@mhc.cuny.edu.