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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

College & Career

Dear Sue: My son is in college and is confused as to what type of career he should pursue. His interests are varied and he doesn't really know what he wants to do.

I am wondering what the trends are for the hottest jobs in the future and how a person should go about selecting a particular field to go into.

I know it is a great time for job hunters, but what industries will offer the most opportunity? I would like to guide him in the right direction. Can you provide us with this type of information?

- Dad

Sue Says: To help answer your question, I asked Jennifer Floren, president and CEO of Boston-based experience. Com, Inc., a college student and alumni "e-cruiting" company for her response. Here's what she had to say: Due to the strong economy, companies are hiring more recent college graduates than ever before. Signing bonuses, sky-high salaries and flextime are common first-year perks.
Students and young professionals are trying desperately to find their place in the new world of work. Thousands of students are aggressively recruited before they even graduate college.

Without the right guidance and information, young professionals often find themselves in the wrong career. In fact, the average American changes jobs five times before they reach the age of 30.

Whether a career is considered "new economy" or "old economy," the world of work has changed. Professionals no longer worry about climbing the corporate ladder, they're concerned about achieving balance between work and personal time, and look for employers who offer them enough opportunity to grow and learn.

It's certain that your son will experience one good job and one bad job before he hits 30. Many people have started a career--even a career related to their college major--and decided that line of work was not what they wanted. This is not a bad thing. We all learn from experience. Once a skill or expertise has been mastered, it becomes a selling point for the next job.

Experience in different fields gives a person the ability to look at problems in work and in life from different perspectives. Employers value this kind of insight.

The best advice for young professionals starting out is to first decide what defines success in his or her eyes. Is it a high-paying job? Happiness on the job? Helping others? Working somewhere that gives you time for a family?

The following steps will help anyone begin the process of defining success:

  • Define your goals and know what you are looking for - is it a higher salary, less work, more benefits or a better commute? 
  • Outline your options. Is it a good time for you to change jobs?
  • Research the choices. Is it a better salary in this field? Will it help my career?
  • Make a decision and then stick with it for a predetermined time--whether you stay at your current job or look for new work.
  • Reevaluate. Check in with yourself at the predetermined time. Are you happy? Do you need to evaluate your options again? 

What are the hottest jobs? The answer may surprise you -- temping, leasing, outsourcing, consulting, and running a small business are considered " hot." 

While these occupations aren't the fastest growing among young professionals specifically, they likely will be once the young professionals of today become the experienced veterans of tomorrow. So where are these young workers starting out?

As anyone could tell you, the high-tech sector has supported the highest growth rate and, therefore, the highest level of recruitment over the past few years.

Engineering and computer/technology jobs continue to grow and lead the market. The majority of recent graduates have entered these fields over the last few years.
The demand for education-related professionals will continue to rise as fewer and fewer graduates are entering this field. The communications/media field has grown, as has public affairs and social services. Sales, marketing and general business/accounting positions have not grown as much as other areas given the robust high-tech job market. Anything related to the Internet still is hot, even with the "cooling" of tech stocks earlier this year. Students continue to flock to the technology industry for jobs with high salaries, good benefits, and a casual atmosphere.

Regardless of what's "hot," your son should search for what will make him happy. No one will never achieve career fulfillment until they determine what success is for themselves. Once success has been defined, a plan needs to be created. Changing jobs early on has become normal. The goal should be to gain experience and continue moving toward his ultimate goal.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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