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How do you know if you've found your right major, job, and school?

I've been talking to a lawyer and he just told me that he would have liked being a doctor more than being a lawyer. He has 2 kids and needs the income to feed them not going to school again. After seeing him regret his decision I'm worried about going to college and choosing my life. #lawyer #future #majors #job

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Kim’s Answer

The old saying, "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence," probably applies here! Doctors and lawyers both work incredibly long hours, can get calls while at home, etc. But a whole lot of this falls in the "it depends" category. What type of lawyer is he? Does he work for himself, or a firm? Is he expected to find his own clients? What is it he does not like about the job?


EVERY job has some hidden aspect of it that nobody talks about and nobody likes, and you don't learn about it until after you start doing it. That is why it is very important for you to shadow professionals or ask probing questions here. It could be that he is simply not properly matched to the type of lawyering job he should be doing, not that he should not be a lawyer at all.


For example, if you were to ask me what I totally HATED about my last job, I'd tell you how mgt. did not seek any input from employees whatsoever, and, about how our performance was measured by trivial things that didn't really matter. But it's going to be up to you to ask the right questions. Sometimes professionals try to paint a really pretty picture when talking to teenagers. So, it's up to you to ask probing questions.


Also, take note that this lawyer you have been talking to is feeling "trapped." He has family and financial responsibilities, and doesn't feel he has any choice. I have met many people in this situation. It is usually because they cannot afford to take a salary cut, even if it will eventually lead to greater opportunities. Try to watch your finances, so you are not living paycheck-to-paycheck. Living below your means, and having an emergency savings fund, will give you the latitude you need to be able to change careers.


Don't be discouraged by what this lawyer is telling you, but do try to find out more about what it is he does not like. This type of honesty can be helpful.


How do you know what's for you? Ask yourself if you truly feel law "calling you." You may try an intermediate step. Get your undergraduate degree and become a paralegal. The schooling will be far less expensive, the pay can be good, (or not. . . .), and it will give you the opportunity to see what you feel about the legal environment. Not everyone in law school is 22!



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Terence’s Answer

First, I'd argue that it's not to late to change direction. It may require a change or pivot from what someone's doing, but it's doable. There are a lot of stories of people who changed careers late in life with great success. If you're early on in your studies or your career, you have the luxury of time to think about a few things. When I work with people on developing a career path, I focus on 3 areas:

1) What do you like to do?
2) What don't you like to do?
3) What're you good at?

The first 2 ("like/don't like") are a focus more on your personality - do you love large problems or specific issues? Do you like to be highly organized and structured, or are you comfortable with less/no structure that you need to build? Do you like to build new things or generate new ideas, or do you like to make existing things work better? In your case, you may have a pretty solid list of the things you DON'T like to do. What're the things you DO like to do? Is it working with people or working alone?

The 3rd is more around what you're good at in the workplace, your professional skillset if you want to think of it this way. Perhaps it's photography related, or some other things. Take some time to think through this. The skills you have can be applied to many areas.

Keep your career path in mind, but I would say to be flexible with what it. Start taking stock of the things that you're interested in or that you're passionate about. As you grow, develop more experience, and are exposed to more areas, your views and interests will change. Do what you can to expand your view on the things you like to do. Maybe it's related to photography or editing photos. The creative space is enormous, with companies like Adobe completely devoted to it. Explore their user communities like https://community.adobe.com/ to find like minded people and see if you gain better perspectives on what you'd like to do.

An example for me was that I knew that I liked to look at large problems and make things work better. I knew I didn't like minute details and intricate problems. With my interest in tech, I knew that I would not want to work as a developer. Instead, I focused on the business side of the tech industry. I was great at building teams and organizations, leading me to operations roles.
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Nicole’s Answer

Let me just answer this by asking a couple questions.

Does what you are learning excite you?
Do you look forward to going to your major classes/job every day?
Would you be happy doing this is money was no factor?
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Jennifer’s Answer

I think it is very important to find something that makes you want to get up in the morning. Look for something that really energizes you. Then as they say you will never work a day in your life.

Making a career change can be difficult, but there may be ways to fulfill a desire to do something different through volunteering.

The best thing is to explore, join clubs, do informational interviews, spend a day with someone in the careers you are interested in.

Best of luck!
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Madhana’s Answer

Dear Sujeong

If you randomly pick 10 people and ask them if they are doing a job that is closely related to their degrees, you may get 1 or may 2% who say they are doing a job that is related to their education, and if they are loving it. Except fields such as Nursing. Nowadays there are MD doctors who are working in Wallstreet.

Education a basic degree gives you confidence, and build your network , understand the world outside better.

We learn our passion on the go. Most people embrace the journey, and make the best out of it. Give it all of yourself, and make a positive impact along the way.

I guess, the point I am trying to make it, be agile, Enjoy the journey, make the best of the outcome.
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Simeon’s Answer

Law and medicine are high commitment career paths, meaning it's much harder to change out of those fields into other jobs because people's experience, knowledge, and professional network are all related to that one job. If you're afraid of getting stuck, diversify your degree and experience to give you more options in case you want to get out of your chosen field someday. By "diversify your degree", I mean see about getting a minor, double major, or additional certifications in areas outside your main focus. Also, your backup option could be used to pay for your life expenses while you make time to go to school for whatever new career you want to certify for.
Thank you comment icon Can you give more details on how someone might "diversify their degree"? Gurpreet Lally, Admin
Thank you comment icon Understood. I've added a bit more detail like you asked. Simeon Snow
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