Sometimes also referred to as a specialty, a field is the umbrella that holds several specific careers together—accounting, for example, is the business field that contains public accountants, auditors, forensic accountants, as well as the degrees needed to reach these positions. Choosing a field is the essential step that comes before choosing a career, and often before choosing a degree.
First, Weigh Your Skills
In his book, "What Color is My Parachute?" Richard Nelson-Bolles says that it's important to take your abstract interests and desires and turn those concepts into a list of transferable skills. Bolles gives the examples of "problem solving" or "being able to guide a group discussion," and explains how to prioritize your list:
- Base your list on which skills you most enjoy using.
- Next, create a separate list of those industries and issues that most interest you.
- The end goal should be a combination of what you love, with what you do well.
- Realize that sometimes things fit together in a different way than you first assume.
For example, certain interests—like chatting with your friends all day—are not going to fit well into any business industry. But what is it about chatting with your friends that you so enjoy? Interacting with people? Giving advice? Identified in this more abstract way, it your propensity for socializing could be transferred into a career in human resources.
Don't Know What Business Field to Choose?
What do you do if you don't know what transferable skills you have and/or you don't know where your passion lies?
This kind of introspection can clearly be difficult, but try this mental exercise:
- Think about what you most enjoy doing in general and try to figure out which elements are constants throughout all or many of these things.
- Once you have identified certain high-level concepts that consistently pique your interest, begin investigating different business fields and try to see where you would best fit.
- Take some time to reflect on your past, since what has historically made you happy will most likely make you happy in the future.
Pay special attention to those events when time seemed to pass especially quickly. This is called a flow state, and it marks durations of heightened concentration and happiness. You can also ask friends, family or colleagues for their honest views on your skills and passions, as we often are better able to accurately observe those around us than ourselves.