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What classes did you take to choose what career path you desire?

Asked New York, New York

As a senior in Achievement First Brooklyn High school, I had a long desire since a child in science because it focuses on discovering and creating innovative technology or ideas. As I matured, my focus has been between engineering or health majors. I recently got accepted into Swarthmore College, a highly ranked liberal arts school and I have to decide the classes that I want to take. Although you do not have to declare your major until the middle of sophomore year, I want to be more decided in the major or classes I will specifically take in college that I desire. Should I take classes health or some form of engineering in college? Health has its pros since there are multiple careers that I can take and make the most amount of money. On the other hand, I am not sure what careers that can help me the most in the future from majoring in engineering. #college #engineering #health #classes #premed

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Steve’s Answer

Updated Gainesville, Virginia

Although many colleges try to rush you to declare a major, you should definitely use your first couple of years in university to take many diverse classes. How do you know what you like unless you try out a few things? Steve Jobs famously audited a class on calligraphy which he says inspired him to add fonts to Macintosh. One friend completed his major in accounting only to find he really hated being an accountant. I wonder if he would have pursued a different major had he taken classes in many areas instead of focusing just on business.

Your guidance counselor can give some insights but educators rarely know much about how the rest of world operates. Interview your friends parents to learn more about their jobs and what fields of study they found helpful.

Personally, I majored in computer science and then got a job as a programmer. A work friend recommended I interview for a job I'd never heard of at a company I'd never heard of. I interviewed and accepted a job as a sales engineer--the technical resource on a sales team. I went from working 2nd shift 5 or 6 days a week to flying all over the USA explaining the technical capabilities of my product. It was I job I never knew existed. I went on to take jobs in sales, marketing, and product management, moving up the ranks to Chief Marketing Officer.

Today I have my own business, sharing my expertise in technical product management--an area of speciality I've been developing since the 1980s. Looking back, the path is now obvious but it wasn't at all clear to me when I was 20.

It's a lot easier to work in a job you like than one you don't. Learn to learn in college. Spend time on things you have never been able to explore. The more experiences you have, the more likely you are to find the things that really appeal to you.

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