4 answers

How did you know that the career you chose was absolutely what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?

Asked Snellville, Georgia

I am about to be a senior in high school and I know that, right now, I want to be a neurologist, but I am worried that once I start studying to become one, I will realize I do not like it, but by then it will be too late to change my mind. I just want to know how you discovered what career you wanted to go into, and how you knew it was the right one for you?
#choosingtherightfield #careeradvice #medicalfield #uncertainty #decions

4 answers

Austin’s Answer

Updated Washington, Washington

Hi Oreoluwa,

Good question. Choosing a major and pursuing a career is definitely a big decision to make, but it is only as stressful as you make it out to be. There are many ways that can make it easy for you to pick a major and choose a career that you will end up liking. The previous comment had some good points about shadowing a professional to see the kinds of things they do on a daily basis. This will give you an idea of the things that are expected of you which should help you decide on whether or no the career you are interested in is a good fit. Another good idea is to do a couple internships during college to further explore what it is like to actually perform your job duties. Many places offer internships and they are a great way to gain relevant work experience and explore a career. Instead of jumping into a career with no background knowledge, internships help answer some of the questions you may have surrounding the work and what it is actually like.


Another point, choosing a major/career during college does not mean that you are stuck with it for the rest of your life. People are increasingly working more and more jobs and career switches are becoming even more common. I graduated college May 2017 and was working in this one job for about 7 months. At the 7 month mark I decided that the job was not for me and was lucky enough to get a great job with PwC. I didn't feel stuck in my old job and mobility was definitely possible. Try not to view a career/job as the only thing you will do in your life as it will only cause you unnecessary stress.


I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck!!


Best,

Austin

Updated
Thank you so much for your feedback. It was very informative.

Sheila’s Answer

Updated Hartford, Connecticut

Hi Oreoluwa,

choosing a career is a big decision when you are still in high school. If you want to get a feel for a field you are interested in, like neurology, I would suggest trying to do several days of job shadowing with someone in that field. In this instance it could be a neurologist who sees patients, or a neurological researcher. If you don't know anyone who works in this field, reach out to your guidance counselor or even your doctor to see if they can help connect you with someone who would be willing to have you shadow.

My daughter recently did this with a friend who is a physician. She was able to go to work in his office and follow him for patient visits. This really helped her to clarify that she did want to work in medicine, but helped her realize there were things she didn't like about having a medical practice This changed her career path slightly - she changed from pursuing degree as physician and is instead pursuing the degree path that will make her a nurse practitioner, where she will be able to do much of the same work, but also allow her to have a work/life balance.

Also just because you decide to pursue one career now, doesn't mean that sometime later in life you could choose to get another degree and pursue a totally new career The important thing is to do something that you love!

Sheila recommends the following next steps:

  • Talk to your school guidance counselor or your pediatrician to ask if they can help get you connected to someone in the field you are interested in.
  • Set up a day to shadow a neurologist and ask them for advice and ask questions about how they like what they do and why.

Carole’s Answer

Updated Rancho Palos Verdes, California

Hi Oreoluwa: This is a great question and it is a great idea to start right away to research this career and maybe others before you go to college. I will give you a few suggestions: 1. If you have a Career Center in your high school you should take advantage of the Interest and Personality Assessments. You may not think they would help, but for 70 to 80% of the students who take these assessments find them beneficial. 2. My story is a little different: I didn't have these assessments to take in either High School or college and I went through college thinking I would be a teacher. So I took the courses, but as it turned out I did not like it once I was working at my certification. 3. I then took some assessments as an adult and found out that counseling and a couple other careers were better for me than the teaching. It all has to do with your interests and particularly your Personality. 4. You have to have the right personality to be happy in your job and that is what the assessments will give you. 5. After you take your assessments you should make an appointment with a Career Counselor not a regular school counselor.  6. It is important  to show your assessment to the counselor and discuss you positive and negative views about what you have learned about yourself and he/she can help you define where you be the happiest in your career choice. I found out later in life but I have been a Career Counselor over 30 years and yes it was a perfect fit for me, whereas teaching was not. 7. You should also try and volunteer or work somewhere either hospital or medical facility and gain some experience within the career that is best for you. If you know someone who is in this career or ask another physician to let you shadow him/her during several days, so that you will learn more about what goes on in the daily life of this person. Experience, Education, and Exposure are the three "E's" suggested by  me given to you for your future progress towards your career choice. I wish you the best in your search and suggest that you start very soon to get some answers. It will be worth it to you and you will be happier if you LIKE WHAT YOU DO!!

Carole recommends the following next steps:

  • The assessments are very necessary to take: The SDS self directed search by john Holland is excellent for your interests and personality. The Myers Briggs is good for the personality, but that one usually costs money. Your school will have more choices also!

Elida’s Answer

Updated

Oreoluwa:

The short answer is that you often don't know. Choosing a career, a path, is a leap of faith. But the best news is that you can change your mind. Again and again.


The ability to recreate ourselves in the workplace is a great gift, and you should take comfort in the fact that working Americans, do, in fact, change jobs and recreate themselves more than ever. I was 11 or 12 when I announced to my parents that I wanted to be a journalist. I was lucky, my interest in the field stuck and here I am, marking 37 years as a working journalist.


I studied journalism in college. I never changed my major. But I'm a rare case. My secret? I was afforded dozens of opportunities within my chosen field to recreate my work and jumped at most of them. I've worked in newspapers, TV, digital media. I spent a year in advertising and one in public relations. I've never been bored, never stopped learning and never regretted my career choice.


The same goes for you. You'll have the chance to change your mind in college. You can go to graduate school to recreate yourself. And you can creatively use whatever you study to pursue interesting work. I think of the doctors who show up in national media and work as TV reporters or writers. They're not wasting their medical training. They're using it to enhance other interests and aspects of their careers. And I think people who are that talented and creative with their knowledge and skills are really special.


Don't be afraid. Go out there and make some choices and know that you can change your mind. It's up to you to create your career, your life, in your own image. It will be a great adventure!



When you go off to college, don't limit yourself. You'll eventually have to pick a major, but use your years in school to explore and learn many things. I can't emphasize that enough. I have a B.S. and M.S. in journalism, but I also majored in U.S. history and minored in political science and art history (architecture). I studied literature. It's one of the last real times you'll have the time and permission to do that, and you should take advantage.


Remember that learning doesn't stop with college. Commit to a lifetime of learning, reading, growing.


Never limit yourself.


Nothing is permanent. Never be afraid to change your mind.

Elida recommends the following next steps:

  • When you go off to college, don't limit yourself. You'll eventually have to pick a major, but use your years in school to explore and learn many things. I can't emphasize that enough. I have a B.S. and M.S. in journalism, but I also majored in U.S. history and minored in political science and art history (architecture). I studied literature. It's one of the last real times you'll have the time and permission to do that, and you should take advantage.
  • Remember that learning doesn't stop with college. Commit to a lifetime of learning, reading, growing.
  • Never limit yourself.
  • Nothing is permanent. Never be afraid to change your mind.
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