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How can I choose a profitable career when my interests don’t align with many?

I’m an upcoming senior in high school and I’m starting to seriously consider my future path. My issue is that my interest in the preforming and fine arts outweighs much of anything else, and From what I know those Aren’t fields that often get paid very much. I enjoy designing and drafting so I was looking at careers in the architectural and graphic design fields, but I hold more passion for fiction writing than I do Math. My other interests are things like theater, music (theory and performance) I do find things like psychology interesting, but that field deals with directly helping people, and jobs like that, (teacher, therapist, psychiatrist,) would be awful for me. So I’m at a huge roadblock. Any help? #arts #music #career #career-choice #help #architecture #graphicdesign #starvingartist #decisions #stuck #confused #help # #psychology #profitable #money


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Courtney’s Answer

Something I'd encourage you to think about, too, is that you can have more than one career/passion/interest in your life! I recently read this article that summarizes that well I think: https://hbr.org/2017/04/why-you-should-have-at-least-two-careers. Sometimes we have to think about creative ways to merge our various interests both in and out of work. For example, someone who works professionally as an architect might volunteer at a local youth theater and/or write novels on the side. Additionally, you could study Music and end up doing something different, using the great transferable skills you'd gain by studying the arts! It's all about knowing how to market those skills to your potential future employers (things like leadership, communication, and cultural awareness).

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Daniel’s Answer

Hi Ashton,

I felt very similar to how you did in High School. I knew I had a lot of interests, but I was unsure of what the best way to direct my talents would be in a way that would provide me with the financial security I wanted.

When I first when to college, it was for Journalism, but then I switched to Creative Writing before finally landing on Psychology. I successfully received a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, and started working odd jobs to pay my bills. I eventually ended up with a Retail position at the company I have been with for the past 5 years. I have been very happy to work here and have received opportunities to grow and eventually take managerial ownership of our New York City office with over 350 employees. I get to work closely with high level Executives in my company on a daily basis and am heavily involved in ensuring our employees our happy and productive. My career did not take the path I originally planned, but I was able to use the things I learned in acquiring my degree to advance my career and stand out amongst other candidates. Whether I am using algebra to make formulas for budget, relying on my statistics learnings when interpreting research data, or managing the emotions or expectations of others through my learning in Psychology. My whole day is focused on helping people in my company and making sure they are as happy to come into work as I am.

I think I was very lucky to receive the opportunities I have, but the core learnings I received were critical to my success. I think the best thing you can do is find organizations and companies you would want to work for that are in line with your core values. But the most important thing to me is that I am able to be financially secure and do something I believe in.

Daniel recommends the following next steps:

Determine what you find the most engaging and exciting to learn
Research organizations you would want to join for entry level positions for jobs and internships
Apply yourself to your creative efforts

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Joe’s Answer

Welcome to the world of what the poet Robert Frost coined as the many who live a life of quiet desperation. Here it's ok to be afraid to be yourself and live a maddening duplicity of your mind telling you take this work which you probably don't want and your heart screaming out this is who you really were meant to be. Please make sure to be like everybody else who kills their dreams because they believed in the power of a statistic i.e. that field doesn't pay that much over entering the vibrant and challenging throes of life in order to make their own form of living. Yes sir you too can join the masses and turn your mind off at 25 and sleepwalk through the rest of your life.
I don't know about you but when I hear there are wealthy people committing suicide that tells me money isn't the answer to everything. I have met people who have told me that they left high paying work for less pay but are happy now with meaning in their lives. Money is not the problem. The concerns stem from prioritizing money before our creativity. Money is a by product of what we do, not the other way around.
Develop yourself as well as pay attention to who you are and what you like so that you develop the abilities to accomplish what it takes to live in this world and the money will follow. I'll leave you with this. I recently saw a YouTube video that featured Jeff Bezos of Amazon. He didn't sit around dreaming of billions of dollars but of how to provide exemplary custom service. Try to think of it as what you will be able to offer others as opposed to what you can get from them. In closing it's not my usual style to use sarcasm. It was my hope that the imagery painted a clear picture for you. Your ok and you will be alright. Have faith in yourself. Good luck to you!

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Lucas’s Answer

Your's is a very important and difficult question. I can't give you an answer but I can give you a few thoughts to consider when coming up with your own answer.

Ideally, we would all build a career in an area of interest and be well compensated, right? There are three things that need to be considered in making a career decision: your passion for a profession, your passion for a hobby and money. There is a big difference between your profession and a hobby. Profession is what you do for living in exchange for money, a hobby is something you do just because you enjoy doing it. You said that fiction writing interests you more than math, but making a living out of fiction writing is very hard, right? So why not find a job that pays you enough and you can still work on your fiction writing for pleasure? Similar thing with music... you can be a musician, it just not necessarily need to be your day-job.

I am an accountant. If you'd ask me growing up if my dream was to be an accountant, I would have said no (any accountant that says "yes" would be lying). However, there are many aspects of my job that I love (critical thinking, working with good people, I did a lot of travel for work, etc) and it pays me very well. Because of that, I can play my guitar and have a lot of fun, but I don't rely on my music for a living.

I am not here to discourage you from pursuing your dreams. If a career in arts/music/writing is what you choose and you are happy doing it, hey, that is the best case scenario. My advice is for you to feel more comfortable deciding knowing that is nothing wrong with choosing a career path that may initially not be 100% what you think you like, but that will take you somewhere and allow you opportunities to do what you like and also find out new things that you might like.

I agree with what was said above. I would only add that you have a lot of time to explore your interests to see what kind of work you like doing. Volunteering or interning at different organizations will give you a feel for the day-to-day experience in these fields. Ted Curran

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Cathy’s Answer

My suggestion is that you follow your heart and do what interests you. Passion for a subject is very important if you are going to make a career out of that subject. Doing what you love makes it so much easier to get up and go to work every day than doing something that is profitable but does not excite you. It will be very hard to sustain your interest in that career for very long.
Although you could consider doing a career for a short period of time to make money that you will save for a future when you will stop that career and move on to what does excite you and holds your interest. Then you can rely on the savings you have to supplement the lesser income you will make doing what you love.
There are options so you have to give yourself a path to begin but be flexible to recognize an opportunity when it comes your way to do what you love.

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Shirley’s Answer

So much of life is spent working, if you are able to align your passions at work, it will make working more enjoyable and fulfilling. Jobs and careers are no longer for life & can be more diverse. As you already know what you're passion about, I would focus on these areas of interest and look at the industries & career paths which align. For example: Marketing for Museums / Public communications for a Theaters / Advertising for media agency.

Good luck & remember it's never too late to change your choices & career path

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