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6 ways to determine if you’re in the right career

February 14, 2015, 4:00 PM UTC
Photograph by Terry Lorant

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: What is one piece of advice all millennials should take before entering the workforce? is written by Debby Hopkins, CEO at Citi Ventures.

There is no question that millennials are shaping the job market in new ways — from founding companies like Task Rabbit, Airbnb and Lyft to redefining the workplace. As millennials continue to grow as a generation, the best piece of advice that I can offer is this: remember to think “big picture.” Here are some important questions to ask yourself to ensure you’re keeping this perspective when beginning your career.

What is your passion? Figure out what makes you happy, and find a way to make a career out of it. Even if it takes you down a different path than expected, you will undoubtedly learn something. For example, you may love architecture and discover that the work environment is too individual, or you may love PR and find that you really enjoy writing. In either instance, you’ve gained valuable insight to make future career decisions. Work requires a lot of energy; try to pick a role or industry you truly enjoy and be honest in assessing what keeps you motivated.

Does the company culture excite you? When you’re hired into company, you’re also hired into its culture. It’s important to consider whether this is the type of environment that will challenge you (in good ways) and empower you to achieve your best. Think about other settings where you excelled and whether this environment has comparable attributes.

Do you like your boss? This may sound trite, but it’s critical to make sure you have a connection with your boss. This person will have a profound impact on your work experience. Consider whether your manager will be a good advocate. They should encourage your development and growth through new opportunities and constructive feedback.

Are you part of the solution? Evaluate what the challenge is for your boss or your employer. Ask yourself whether your role is a position where you are able to be part of the solution. The more you’re able to drive an agenda forward, the more invaluable you’ll become.

Can you define your strengths “horizontally?” We often limit ourselves by what we have studied or what is reflected on our resumes. Instead, I suggest challenging yourself to keep an open mind. For example, it is possible to go into finance if you majored in art? Can you transition from an industrial career to one in technology? By thinking broadly about your capabilities you will open new doors and have the confidence to succeed.

Are you networking? If not, do so. This will help you discover new opportunities and develop key connections. Today’s world is increasingly defined by blurred industry lines and periods of uncertainty — considering diverse perspectives will help you stay innovative.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: What is one piece of advice all millennials should take before entering the workforce?

There’s no such thing as a linear career path by Trish Lukasik, Senior Vice President of Sales at PepsiCo.

Want to succeed in your career? Get uncomfortable by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.

Listen to your gut — it could make you CEO one day by Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint Water.

Why millennials have the power to change the workplace — for good by Lauren Stiller Rikleen, President of Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership.

Why passion may not be enough to build a successful career by Sarah Leary, co-founder and vice president of marketing and operations at Nextdoor.

How to build a career, not just a job by Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership.

Best lesson from your first job: discovering your weaknesses by Ann Marie Petach, Senior Managing Director of Solutions Group at BlackRock.

3 ways to get noticed at work by Liz Wiseman, President of Wiseman Group.

Can millennials revolutionize business? by Erica Dhawan, co-author of “Get Big Things Done” and CEO of Cotential.

Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez: My best career advice for millennials by Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of the Girl Scouts of USA.