A lot of young people are wondering how do I pick the best career? Do you listen to your parents and do what is practical? Do you follow your passion? Or do you find something in-between? In my opinion a lot of us are still figuring out what we want to do when we grow up. I know I am certainly still figuring it out. I think that is okay and it is normal. Some of us are lucky and knew what they wanted to do when they were young and props to them! A lot of us do what is practical and something you know you’ll be able to make a living off of such as Lawyer, Accounting, Physician, Marketing, Sales, etc.
When I was in college I wasn’t sure what to major in and it was more a process of elimination knowing that studying Economics was what a lot of successful people did. I thought I wasn’t good with English so didn’t want to become a lawyer and wasn’t committed enough to be a Physician. I certainly am impressed by all the Doctors out there that are committed many years of school and am appreciative for all that you do. So after majoring in Economics I knew I had a get an internship so I basically applied to all business internships available and ended up getting one with a big four accounting firm and that’s how my first real job started.
Throughout working in Public Accounting and then subsequently in Financial Planning and Analysis I always enjoyed working with my coworkers and learning but wasn’t sure if that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life so I kept trying new things. I ended up taking a year off to spend time with my one year old son and to help figure out what I wanted to do. While staying home with my young son and having my second son I realized for me I was happier interacting with coworkers and working on a regular basis. I am someone who enjoys seeing and interacting with other adults on a regular basis. I have complete respect for parents who stay home with their kids full time as it is an extremely hard job.
After taking a year off I realized I really wanted to work and luckily there was a great position for me in finance at a Biotech company. Knowing I wanted to try something new, I tried my best to do an excellent job in financial planning and analysis and made good connections and was able to switch into Market Access and then Marketing. For sure if I didn’t have these connections built then it would have been much more difficult to switch careers from Finance to Marketing especially that far along in my career. I loved Marketing in that I was able to be more creative, interact with sales teams, learn about how to sell a product and overall Commercial strategy. I also was able to travel frequently around the United States and attend conferences all of which I enjoyed. Thankfully my husband was happy to take care of our two young kids while I was focusing on my career.
While I loved Marketing and the people I worked with I went back into finance as that was my main background and the breadth of my experience. Today I thoroughly enjoy my career in finance. I also love the ability to have a side hustle and am excited about the future to see where both of these adventures will take me.
As you can see I’ve had a lot of job and even career changes over the past 15 years and I’m still figuring it out. I think as long as you do the following you should be well on your way to selecting a rewarding career:
1.) Are you willing to try a career? It is better to try something, learn from it, and move on than to not try anything at all.
2.) While I do believe some people are lucky and can follow their passions (more power to them), I do think it is important to keep in mind key considerations such as pay and career ladder when selecting a profession.
3.) Talk to as many people and do as much research as possible. Do you have friends or friends’ parents in certain professions? Don’t be afraid to ask to learn more about their jobs, most people would be happy to help, and asking is the only way you will learn. There are lots of websites available to learn about different careers and do take advantage of all the information. Below are some great examples.
HighestPayingCareers: Listing of occupations and expected pay amounts by profession
CareerOneStop: Information on career exploration, training, and jobs sponsored by U.S Department of Labor
Career Profiles: Website on how to select a career
4.) After doing your research make a selection and give it a try! You can always change your mind later. Lot’s of people do.
People switch their career plans roughly between five and seven times (Careers Advice Online)
Here are some more interesting statistics on how often people switch jobs at whattobecome.com
5.) Picking a career and or side hustle can be scary, embrace the fear and give it a try anyways!
We are all figuring it out as we go along. As long as we are having fun, enjoying the moment, and also planning for the future it’ll all work out! I would love to hear about your stories and perspectives to selecting a career.