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Alright this question needs a little more context. This is not about me but I will define the situation as if it were for myself, so feel free to ask me directly for clarifications.

I'm a German student currently in my second year of a university course that combines both teaching (to children) and art. The problem is with the actual practice during internships: I quickly realized that teaching is not for me; plus, art doesn't guarantee me stable outcomes at all, the jobs are very rare and underpaid. So now I'm fully decided to change my course,I've already started searching by:

  • Looking up the available diplomas in different universities in my country, and the contents of the classes they are made of. This didn't give me the inspiration I expected, and didn't give me a relevant sense of what was really taught.

  • Going through various online orientation tests, but their questions are not precise or numerous enough to give me relevant tracks; most of them lead me up to the legal field, which I highly dislike.

  • Going through various lists of jobs, also to get inspiration and know about stuff I didn't know. But it still does not give me a solid overview of what the careers actually entail.

  • Talking with as many people as I can about it, to share experience and knowledge.

But all this brought me no closer to my goal as I'm still stuck at the same point. So my exact question is: what would be the best tools/ways/methods to find and analyze relevant programs that I could enjoy, as well as their outcomes ?

P.S.: I didn't find any other relevant SE community in which I could ask this; if there are, I would be happy to move my post.

  • Did you mean to write incomes where you wrote outcomes? – henning -- reinstate Monica Mar 10 '18 at 7:49
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    I think the problem with the search process that you describe is that you don't know what you're looking for. – henning -- reinstate Monica Mar 10 '18 at 7:51
  • @henning by outcomes, I meant the job opportunities offered by the chosen major. And finally, yes, I absolutely don't know what I am looking for, that's what I'm asking for tools and methodology to follow a structured and pertinent way to find something that would satisfy me. – OddBrew Mar 10 '18 at 13:43
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You first must determine your values, as ultimately any answer you'd find convincing must satisfy your values. Then, the problem becomes more a question of how to best satisfy these values.

Decision making skills can be useful in choosing a major, and will be useful for almost any choice you make. I'd recommend taking a decision analysis class, as I did during my PhD. The principles involved with making good decisions will be valuable in almost any endeavor.

If you want to improve the world in a very utilitarian way, the website 80,000 Hours should prove useful. The organization is affiliated with the University of Oxford and focuses on helping young people make valuable and satisfying career choices. Of course, education is a major part of this. They have a career guide that I've read a large fraction of, along with a decision tool.

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I have a few tips that should serve as a general guideline. Success in life depends on a number of factors but mainly a sense of personal fulfillment plus perceived value. Some balance should be always sought between these. My tips:

  • Make sure you have an objective. After setting up general career & life goals, making plans is just natural. You don't need to be inflexible on fixed goals: just have them. If you have specific passions, see how they can be fed.

  • Discuss openly with career-oriented peers. You said you're talking to people. Let me tell you to talk chiefly with people aged 27-37 which you find particularly talented, pragmatic, inspiring. They don't need to be immediate friends, actually it may be better if they aren't.

  • Do not worry so much about the major title. Sure a degree helps, but when you dive aggressively into adult life, what counts are always skills. Focus on learning and applying 'transferable skills' (remember this term). Whatever seems useful and you get a taste for, take the opportunity and time to learn it. The most trivial examples are languages, but anything ranging from programming, writing, body language, persuasion, conflicts mediation, diplomacy, fast reading, management, etc, could prove the basis of your future career.

  • Start working early. Find a mentor, someone you can help. Do not be shy of offering a hand for whatever activity you may like, something which is in your general plan of point 1. That will teach you which specific skills you need, and will put you in contact with specialists and other mentors. Without realising your 'job life' will unfurl from your first adventures.

Good luck, and don't look back or sit too long.

2

I suggest you start with career exploration. Once you have a tentative career goal, you can then look for an academic program that will (a) teach you what you need to carry out that job, and (b) give you the credentials you need in order to get such a job. (For some careers, (a) matters much more than (b), such as concert violinist.)

One of my children went to a high school that provided opportunities for this, and in fact required a certain number of hours of structured career exploration activities. That's how I came to know about the concept. People of any age can create their own career exploration activities, if they aren't lucky enough to land in a structured career exploration program. Here are some of the things you can do as part of career exploration. I'll use some concepts and terminology from the US; I hope you can figure out how to translate them to German and Germany.

  • Browse Meet-Ups organized around particular career groupings or themes; attend some that look interesting. Attend "young professional" gatherings, "networking" events, chamber of commerce events, community centers, and art events such as gallery openings, concerts, theater and dance presentations, etc. At all of these events, talk to people one on one and ask them what they do for a living and what path took them there. Also try to find out what, if anything, they do for artistic self-expression. (For example, sometimes people choose to channel their artistic interests into their free time activities rather than as a paid job.) What you want to do at these events is

    • expand your awareness of possible careers,

    • stimulate your imagination about what new careers and combinations are waiting to be developed,

    • notice which personal characteristics correlate with job satisfaction in which careers, especially those personal characteristics that match up with who you are.

  • Seek out some people to shadow. Typically a shadow would be set up for a day or a half day. You arrange it in advance, and then on your shadowing day, you follow a specific person around in a typical work day, watching and listening. If you've ever wondered what it's like to be a graphic artist at a magazine, or be a textile designer, or set up shows at a gallery, do a shadow of someone who works in that capacity. You can request a shadow either of a specific individual that a friend of your aunt's brother-in-law knows, or you can contact a company or group and ask them to match you up with someone on staff.

  • Set up a career exploration internship. This is different from the internship one does after completing a certain amount of coursework. In a career exploration internship, you're just getting your feet wet, with approximately 3 to 8 hours a week, typically unpaid, for perhaps 8 to 12 weeks. You might be assigned grunt work to do -- but you can find out a lot about an industry by being on the inside in this way.

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I think you are on the right track, however, you might extend the steps undertaken some more:

Looking up the available diplomas in different universities in my country, and the contents of the classes they are made of. This didn't give me the inspiration I expected, and didn't give me a relevant sense of what was really taught.

With this point, figure out one that you think is at least somewhat interesting, contact the programme counsellor, ask if you can come by and talk to him/her and then ask if there's an opportunity to talk to some students and attend one or two classes. At my university, this is always a possibility, and I did it myself. This provided me with a clear picture of the programme.

Going through various online orientation tests, but their questions are not precise or numerous enough to give me relevant tracks; most of them lead me up to the legal field, which I highly dislike.

Regarding this comment you seem to know at least some aspects that you don't like (legal and teaching) which is a good first step. However, I personally never really trusted the standard only orientations, but there are professional institutes here in the Netherlands, and I would guess in Germany as well, that have better tests, where you talk with experienced counsellors that can help you. This can cost some money though..

Going through various lists of jobs, also to get inspiration and know about stuff I didn't know. But it still does not give me a solid overview of what the careers actually entail.

Select a job listing that you find somewhat interesting, and then search your network for someone that has a similar job. You could also just contact the recruiter in a list and ask the questions you want to ask.

Talking with as many people as I can about it, to share experience and knowledge.

Good! This is very important :) Keep doing this.

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