We work to make money, but should that be your primary focus when choosing a career? While we can't ignore the glaring financial responsibilities of adulthood, there are other factors to consider when thinking about how to build a successful career. Profitability comes in different forms. A job can be financially profitable but emotionally bankrupt; this is what you want to avoid at all costs. By learning how to align your passions with your goals, you can choose a field that pays well and brings you a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Ask Yourself What You Would Do for Free

It sounds crazy, but just think about it for a moment. If all of your expenses were covered, what job would you do simply because you love it? The answers may surprise you because most people never even contemplate doing what they truly want in life. They think about how to make the most money or respect before they contemplate passion. Your job is a large part of your life contributes greatly to how healthy you are overall so loving it and being happy is important.

But passion is profitable. Someone who loves what they do does it infinitely better than someone who's only in it for the paycheck. So, think about what you love doing and how that could be applied to a career. Then you can start refining the idea to align with current jobs that are available on the market. If you wish you could play video games all day, that's a starting point. Maybe you won't easily be a pro gamer, but you could become a game developer or producer. This exercise is the perfect launchpad for building your dreams.

Weigh the Cost of Education vs. Salary

You should always thoroughly investigate potential career paths before you commit to a degree program. Because students take on anywhere from $15,000 to over $100,000 in debt earning their education, they need to be well aware of what their projected earnings are. Explore sites like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Glassdoor and even job listings to see what the average pay is in your target field. Once you are certain that a degree is really worth its weight in gold, you can begin looking for programs. The goal is to get back far more than you paid over the course of your working lifetime. No one wants to stay in debt forever or wind up working a job that doesn't break even.

Borrowing money to pay for college is a way of life in America. Student loans are highly flexible and widely available. In addition to federal loans, there are private student loans that give you even greater control over how much you borrow, your interest rate and repayment options. You can use a student loan calculator to help figure out the true cost of attending school and how much your future payments will be.

Find a Mentor

Whether it's a career coach or someone in your target field, look for people who can help you. Guidance is paramount in the early stages of career development, and you'll rely on it a lot more than you think later, too. Having a mentor can be transformative and they are there to answer questions, offer reassurance and give you support when you're feeling a bit lost. As you choose a school, make sure you also consider the faculty and students. You want to choose a place that gives you an opportunity to learn far more than just the curriculum. When looking for a career mentor, here are some helpful tips to try:

  • Have specific goals in mind
  • Research their work and know what they can teach you
  • Have a list of reasons why their mentorship would be beneficial to you
  • Approach them with openness and curiosity rather than expectation

A good mentor can help you navigate the early stages of your career and even make connections that lead you to your dream job. But it's important to take your time cultivating yourself before you approach someone. Their role is not to give you a free pass or help you skip a few rungs on the corporate ladder. Instead, they are there to offer some guidance and helpful critiques that will shape you into who you want to be.

Try Different Jobs Before You Commit

There are a lot of options when it comes to the modern workforce. You are not limited by default to a desk job. Maximizing profitability also means considering your happiness. One of the biggest contributors to job satisfaction is your work environment. Intern wherever you can, even if it’s something that just intrigues you. The glory of interning is that it doesn’t always have to lead to your permanent career. It’s about developing yourself as a person and trying on different hats. An open mind will lead you to greater opportunity and quite possibly introduce you to ambitions you never would have had otherwise.