This is a question that might result in different answers at different points in your life! I graduated from college in 2006 and have been working for 12 years in a large corporation. Some days I still don’t know if I’m where I want to be! 😊 In fact, most days I know that while I enjoy certain aspect of my job, I want to aspire to more challenges, more promotion growth, more education – the list goes on. That’s part of what keeps a career interesting: evolving yourself professionally to meet new challenges.
I can say that the path that led me to where I am has usually been filled with choices, kind of like a fork in the road. I may have had the option to pursue very different paths and I choose which direction I was either most interested in at the time or the path where I thought I’d have more success.
Right now I am a principal project manager in the communications industry. When I was in high school or college, I never thought I would be working in this type of job. In fact, I had planned to go to medical school and thought I wanted to be a dermatologist! (I see you used #healthcare on your post so I hope if the healthcare industry is a dream of yours that you pursue it!)
When I was in high school, I focused on math and science and tried to make excellent grades so I could go to a good college. When I was in college and chose a major, I bounced around to different majors because it seemed each one I tried was “too hard” for me to make the kind of grades I wanted. I started out pre-med as a Biochemistry major, then switched to Nutritional Science. After struggling in an Organic Chemistry course, I decided to stop pursuing pre-med studies and switched to Political Science of all things. (I went through a phase thinking if I’m not cut out for medical school then what about law school?) The problem is, I don’t like politics! So, after an elective course, I found Psychology.
Turns out, I really liked the Psychology classes. Since I liked them, I didn’t might studying hard. This meant I was making good grades, too. I also added a Business minor because I wanted to be more marketable for a corporate setting when I graduated (since I had decided not to pursue medicine).
Throughout my corporate career, I’ve always known it is time to move on to the next position or next opportunity when I feel like I’m no longer growing in my current position. Whether it is healthcare or any other industry, that will be a common theme. You don’t want to get stagnant in your position – you always want to shoot for something where you can continue to learn, grow and make an impact. In that aspect, I don’t believe anyone really knows exactly where they want to be…they discover it along the way.
I always suggest for example taking elective courses that interest you in multiple areas. You might be surprised to find what really fits! I also suggest making use of school counselors as resources on what types of classes are helpful to take and in helping you tap into your interests and talents. Another option is to look at local volunteer opportunities. I volunteered one summer in a doctor’s office which I enjoyed. Another semester I volunteered in an ER at a local hospital (which taught me I didn’t want to work in an ER)! The journey and discovery process is what will help you make the decisions of where you want to go.
-As a personal side note, because your post is tagged for healthcare, I’ll tell you to shoot for the skies and know it will be hard and that’s OK. Looking back on my decisions in college now that I’m 34, I wish I could tell my 20 year old self to have a more realistic view of how hard some of the coursework for pre-med would be and to power through. I knew at the time I could do it but I didn’t have the discipline or the work ethic – so, I ended up in a corporate career. I’ve greatly enjoyed my corporate positions but there is still that curiosity in the back of my mind of what would I be doing if I had worked a little harder in college and not given up on pre-med studies? Just something to think about. 😊