Career myths are beliefs that are inaccurate or incorrect. These beliefs can, unfortunately, have a major impact on a person’s career planning and career decision-making. Why? Because beliefs usually influence actions. For example, if you believe that it is unimportant to floss your teeth daily you probably won’t do this. In career planning, if you believe that a Faculty of Arts degree is “useless”, you’re unlikely to pursue an education in the Faculty of Arts even if your interests make this appealing – Faculty of Arts degrees are not useless!
Some career myths that we hear frequently include:
- “You need to have a specific career goal identified before you start university studies.”
- The aforementioned “an Arts degree is useless.” or “a Science degree is better than an Arts degree.”
- “The best way to pick your career or job is to look at salary and job availability information.”
- “I should take accounting because I did well in math in High School.”
- “The best way to guarantee employment upon graduation is to focus exclusively on getting high grades.”
- “The best way to find jobs is to check job postings on the internet or in the newspaper.”
- Career specific myths such as: “Social Workers only work with child custody issues.” or “You can’t get into the police force if you’re Caucasian.”
Our perspective on these myths:
- You can start university studies without being sure about your career direction.
- Degrees from the Faculty of Arts are not useless and degrees from the Faculties of Arts and Science are equally good.
- You need to consider more than salary and job market when picking your career to facilitate success and happiness.
- Because you did well in a school subject doesn’t mean that you must study in that area.
- Networking remains the best strategy for finding employment.
- Social Workers work in a wide variety of fields with diverse client populations presenting with a wide range of difficulties; you can get into the police force if you’re Caucasian.
So….how can you determine whether or not your career beliefs are fact or myth?
Start by asking yourself, “How do I know this?” The answer you give will help determine whether or not the information is fact, myth or something in between. For example, if the source of your belief is overhearing two strangers talking in a hallway, you may want to check further on the validity of the information. If the source of your belief is a friend or family member, again, check on the validity. We’re guessing that you’ve probably already received a great deal of advice about career planning and career decision-making from others and that this advice has influenced your career beliefs. We encourage you to review your beliefs and consider their validity. We also encourage you to remember:
- Career planning is not easy and it will likely take longer than the time you took to pick your cell phone plan. Seriously, there is a lot to consider and a lot to do for this to happen quickly. Be patient!
- Most people change their career goal several times during their life so it is not a sign of failure or incompetence if you change your direction. University students change their career direction often.
- Don’t believe that there is only one job that you would enjoy doing. We’re guessing that there are at least a half dozen for most people, if not more!
- You don’t have to be sure about your career goal and direction before you begin university studies. In fact, this is one of the strengths of a university education – you can take some time to explore and experience different career paths before narrowing your focus.
- Make sure that you know all you can about the careers you’re considering – don’t guess! Speak to at least one person in the job before you decide to commit to that area.
- Employers want more than good grades. Employers want you to be a “well-rounded” employee so you will need to work on all your skills (e.g., communication, teamwork, etc.) as you move through your education.
- Your career decision is a big decision but it does not trap you forever in one occupational path. You can change careers and jobs throughout your education and life and there are many, many examples of this. So….it is not a “life or death” proposition.
Don’t pick your career or occupational goal by simply looking at money and job availability. You don’t want to ignore these factors but you need to consider other factors as well.