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When did you figure out what you wanted to do as a career?

I'm a senior in high school and I'm interested in a career in the STEM field. #stem

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Jordan’s Answer

Hi Sherry! Good question.

To be transparent, I did not even know what I wanted to do when I graduated college. I had lined up a career before I graduated in a Customer Success role, which was quite entry level, but my point here is that it's ok to not know right away. Sometimes it's all about trial and error and you shouldn't feel pressured to know immediately. Within my time in CS, I uncovered that I had a passion for sales and driving revenue for the company- which led me to my current role.

Whether you discover your passion in high school, college or after college, everything will fall into place!

-Jordan
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Doug’s Answer

Sometimes you need to try a few different things to get a since of what fits you best. Internships and/or temp jobs are a great way to sample different roles, environment, and companies. My career in High-Tech started doing telemarketing as a temp, now I work for one of the best companies in the world.
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Glenn’s Answer

I started my career as a Mechanical Engineer but within my 2 year, I was asked to assist sellers in explaining the products and services we sold. I then know I wanted to be in sales. I have been in sales for over 30 years and it has been very rewarding.
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Wendy’s Answer

Hi Sherry.
You've received some great advice to your question. I would just add that although there are some people who know exactly what they want to do early in life or when they graduate from high school, this is rare. Some have interests that they would like to pursue and along the way in college it becomes more clear where they would like to go with their career, some even find their dream career in college taking a class or two and finding something they love and want to do the rest of their life. Many of us found careers doing what we love and we didn't know that career even existed when we were in high school. I did know that I really liked business, I just didn't know exactly what I wanted to do in business, once I was on the inside, I found my dream career. I agree with Doug that an internship or temp job with a company of interest to you is a great way to sample different roles, see things on the inside, maybe see a career you didn't even know existed, or define for you the direction you want to head with your studies and career.

Hope all goes well for you
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Lalleh’s Answer

Hello! When I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to work with computers, but I didn't quite know the specifics. I majored in computer and electrical engineering and about my junior year I had a better idea (I focused on chip design). Basically, I ended up taking a variety of classes and found out about fields I didn't know existed. I ended up working on the electrical engineering side of things for about 9 years before I decided to change gears and go into the software side of things.

Sometimes it helps to expose yourself to new things to have a better idea of what's out there or even spark an interest. Or maybe exploring other types of classes in college might reinforce the idea that your initial interests are what you want to continue to pursue.
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Todd’s Answer

I was in a similar situation as Jordan. Making a decision that will impact your entire life can be difficult during high school. I took a year off after high school and can attest that it definitely instills additional drive from having persevered entry level jobs. Try to follow your interests/passion and take strategic steps to accomplish your goal. I'd look into high school level STEM programs to help you to know which path is best for you. Some even partner with companies, so it can be a good opportunity to network within the company - definitely a stellar way to get in and progress through an organization.
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Brad’s Answer

Hello! When I graduated high school, I wanted to be a corporate psychologist. Upon entering my junior year in college I realized this was not the right path for me. I then transitioned into Finance whereas, I wanted to work on Wall Street. I was extremely excited about this path and ended up getting my master's. Ultimately, the universe had other plans for me and as I started at Verizon Wireless as a means to get through my masters, I realized I loved the company and loved leadership. I followed my heart and my passion and realized that was as valuable to me as the monetary value associated with a job. All in all, I encourage you to look at multiple paths, and not only follow the one you set forth to accomplish but the one instead that makes you hop out of bed in the morning.
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Brian’s Answer

That's great that you're thinking about pursuing a degree in the STEM field! As for me, I feel I was always suited to be within the STEM. The issue was trying to figure out what I wanted to do based on my interests and strengths. In high school, I was really interested in science and math, particularly in biology and statistics. I felt that these two fields are so practical and useful in everyday life. Initially in college, I was torn between studying to become a doctor or going to industry and pursing a career in analytics that focused on statistics. Eventually after two years following college, I settled on going into the technology field and working as a data scientist (analyst) since that fit my interests.

I don't think there's a right or wrong answer when selecting your career and your interests. You should write down a list of your goals and interests. Once you have put some thought onto a paper, you can start researching the different fields within STEM that matches them. I found that it was important to talk to friends and mentors on your career path. They could give you excellent guidance that you would not have gotten by Googling on the internet.
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Ishita’s Answer

Hi Sherry! Honestly, I thought I knew what I wanted to do when I was 6. Since the age of 6 I always imagined myself being a surgeon, but my extra curricular, and hobbies said otherwise. I went to UC Davis specifically for their Neurobiology program and very quickly, by the end of Freshman year I knew medicine wasn't for me. I spent my whole entire high school career taking classes that would help me get into a great pre-med program, and all my first year classes were meant for pre-med students.

It's been 4 years since I graduated from Davis, but while I was in school I switched to Economics and International Relations instead. You don't have to have your career figured out. The best thing I can recommend is, take a variety of classes your first year in college. If you want to be pre-med take a few general pre-med classes, but take classes for other subjects you may find interesting (economics/business, english, etc). What's great about careers is you can use a variety of paths to get to the same end goal.

If you for sure want to do STEM look into schools with a variety of programs so you have options to try different things on top of your STEM classes! I'm in a stem field (Tech) but not a stem major, so there are a bunch of options!
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Peregrin’s Answer

I had a great interest as I left high school to do political science and focus on international relations. I pursued this and ultimately ended up with degrees in Political Science and Russian Studies, and went on to a MA in Russian and East European Studies from a top university. While doing my MA, I worked in a start up on International News (Right up my alley!). That same team also had a consulting business, so I started doing some work for that. This lead me to databases and some coding.

That led me to another start up doing international financial reporting... More databases, more coding... Then I got tired of start ups.

My technology led me to an opening with MCI (Verizon today) doing Project Management in the IT organization. This became the first part of what I would consider my true career. Within Verizon, there came a point where it was time to shift what I did or go find work elsewhere... My career evolved again into Business Process Engineering (Lean Six Sigma, Design Thinking, etc...) and that led me to other aspects of my career.

The moral of the story is that your view on what you want your career to be will evolve as your life evolves and opportunities become available. The thought of working in a think tank, writing papers analyzing the latest coming out of Russia is still fascinating to me, but when the time came to make some decisions on what was important in my career, that was not as important as some other factors.

If you want to follow your dream career from an early age, make sure you live a life which that dream can afford. As they say... if you love your work, it will really never feel like work!

Hope the story helped. Best of luck to you.
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