DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm currently in my sophomore year of college. In two years, I plan to have my degree in economics, but I'm not too sure about the direction I should go after that. I'm wondering where I can get an internship in economics. Or should I change my major to something that has more of a direction? -- At a Crossroads, Memphis, Tenn.
DEAR AT A CROSSROADS: Sophomore year is usually when college students claim a major and begin to think seriously about mapping out the future. You chose economics for a reason. Recall that reason and think big about the career path you'd like to carve out for yourself.
Then make an appointment with your guidance counselor to talk about internship opportunities. It is very smart to pursue internships, as they provide a window into worlds that may be of interest to you. Your school should be able to help you secure an internship in your area of interest. Get as many internships as you can, in a variety of areas, so that you can choose your career path with more knowledge.
If, after getting hands-on experience, you no longer are interested in economics, consider changing your major. But don't give up before learning as much as you can about this field.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I keep trying to find a fit for a young man who is in need of work, and it's just not working out. He is so nice and sincere. The problem is that he isn't good at any of the tasks I have asked him to handle. He misses deadlines even when I remind him of them, time and again. He doesn't record phone messages accurately, so I don't have the right numbers to call back clients. I could go on and on, but basically he is not a good fit for me. But I feel so guilty, because I like him and he has been loyal, even if he has not been effective.
How do I say goodbye with the least amount of pain? And how can I help him find another job? -- At the Edge, Shreveport, La.
DEAR AT THE EDGE: Be honest with this young man. Tell him that you have made a good-faith effort to carve out a role for him but that you realize you and he are not a good fit.
Recommend areas in which you think he may excel, but do so only if you honestly believe you have figured out potential paths to success for him. He may need education to shore up his skills. You can suggest that he go back to school to learn a vocation or to study a subject in which he has expressed interest and potential ability.
Be careful not to recommend him for a job that you don't think he can do, as that would tarnish your professional reputation. If he asks for a recommendation, tell him what you can say and what you cannot. Your greatest gift to him will be your honesty, so that he can figure out how to improve on the skills he currently has.