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THE QUESTION

I have my bachelor's degree in business. I was enrolled in a bachelor of education program but dropped out because I was really unhappy. I don't know whether I made the right decision. I'm trying to choose between education and business, two totally different career directions. How do I know which is right for me?

THE ANSWER

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You are not alone in wondering what career path is best for you. People in your generation, Gen Y or millennials, may have as many as five to seven different careers – not just jobs – over a lifetime. You need to clarify your vision for your career.

Consider what your dream job would be if money were no object. Reflect on what you are passionate about and what makes you happy, then make a list. Take an inventory of your interests, strengths, talents and experience. Ask yourself what initially attracted you to business and to education. Review your work history and consider what you like to do, with whom you like to work and in what environments. Look for themes and write these down.

Aptitude and career-interest assessments may help since they can give you a prioritized list of careers that best match your talents, aptitudes and interests.

It sounds as if you are struggling with indecision. You should explore what is behind that indecision and ask yourself what was making you so unhappy. Was it the education program or was it related to other areas of your life? If it was the education program, then what were you unhappy about – the school, the courses, or the instructors? Were there any areas of the program that you enjoyed?

If the education program was not to blame, you need to determine the cause of your unhappiness. Working with a counsellor or therapist can help. They can also help you manage your fears and build your self-confidence and decision-making skills. Also consider working with a career counsellor or coach to narrow down your interests and aptitudes and determine what careers and training programs are the best options.

Business and education do not have to be mutually exclusive career paths. You could become a trainer in the workplace, or a high school or college business teacher, or a school administrator. Talk to people who have both business and education degrees and find out how they have used both degrees. Ask them whether they would do anything different if they had the chance.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes or take some detours with your career. That is how you learn.

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You may want to take some time off school and get a job to determine what areas of business and education interest you most – finance, marketing, logistics, information systems and technology, human resources, labour relations, or training.

Only you can determine the best career option for you. The process involves knowing yourself, being willing to explore options, managing your fears, and asking for guidance when you get stuck. Career development is a continuing process. Be prepared to commit to life-long learning.

Bruce Sandy @brucesandy is principal of Pathfinder Coaching and Consulting and www.brucesandy.com.

Have a question about careers, labour law or management? Send it to our panel of experts: careerquestion@globeandmailcom. Your name and address will be kept confidential.

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