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Should I pick a career/major that is easy for me, but still fun and aligns with my personal goals, or a career that would be a challenge for me, but has been my dream since I was a kid?

I am debating picking between biochemistry (and eventually become a pediatrician) which would align with my personal goals of making a difference in the world, or astrophysics, (physics is definitely a difficult class for me). I am a good student and would be able to commit to both, but also want a career that is pretty social and helps me be around people.

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Karin’s Answer

Hi dh,

I think I would choose the one that comes naturally to you and makes you happy, i.e. become a pediatrician. BTW, you are the first person describing a medical career as "the easy way". There will be challenges in medicine too. And always looking for extra challenges is overrated. :-)

A few more points:

I think your employment opportunities will be much better as a pediatrician, and the career is well portable. You'll have a choice between working at a hospital or having your own practice too. I would think that employment opportunities for astrophysicists are much more scarce and usually tied to universities or government agencies.

In order to become a doctor, you first need to earn an undergrad degree in anything before you can apply to medical school. So, biochemistry before medical school is one possibility, but you could also get your bachelors in astrophysics. Not the most obvious choice but as far as I know med school decisions are not based on your undergrad degree and performance in the MCAT is not better for students who opted for a more "mediciny" degree. That way you give yourself a few years time before you have to decide where you want to go and how difficult it is for you. You would have to cover the pre-requisite courses in biology, chemistry and whatever else is required for med school on the side while maintaining a high GPA and getting some medical experience.

Even stellar students are not guaranteed admission to med school.

Good luck!

KP
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James Constantine’s Answer

Hi there dh,

Let's Chat About Career Choices
Choosing a career is like picking out the perfect outfit - it needs to fit well, look good, and most importantly, make you feel great. It could be a comfortable and enjoyable job that aligns with your personal goals, or a challenging dream job. Here are some factors to consider:

Your Interests: It's crucial to pick a career that matches your passions and interests. It's like turning your hobby into a job - you'll enjoy it more and feel more satisfied. For example, if you're a space enthusiast, a challenging career in astrophysics could be your calling.

Your Long-term Goals: Think about your career aspirations. Are there certain milestones or achievements that you'd find more rewarding in one field than another? For example, if you dream of making a difference in children's lives, becoming a pediatrician might be the perfect goal for you.

Your Growth: Both comfortable and challenging careers can offer chances for personal and professional growth. However, a more challenging career might push you to learn new skills, boosting your confidence and competence.

Biochemistry, Pediatrics, or Astrophysics?
If you're torn between biochemistry and pediatrics, and astrophysics, each path offers unique benefits and challenges. Biochemistry and pediatrics might align more with your goals of making a difference, while astrophysics could offer a more intellectually stimulating journey.

Biochemistry and Pediatrics: These fields offer a social work environment, giving you the chance to interact with people every day. Plus, the opportunity to positively impact children and their families can be incredibly rewarding.

Astrophysics: This field is more intellectually challenging, requiring a deep commitment to learning and research. It could also offer opportunities for personal and professional growth, as well as the chance to contribute to our understanding of the universe.

In Conclusion
Choosing between a comfortable job that aligns with your personal goals and a challenging dream job requires a careful evaluation of your interests, long-term goals, and potential for growth. If you're deciding between biochemistry and pediatrics, and astrophysics, consider the benefits and challenges of each path and how they align with your values and aspirations.

3 Key References:

1. "Career Decision-Making Process: A Review and Synthesis" (Bullock, J., & Collin-Vézina, M., 2011): This source provides a thorough overview of the factors to consider when choosing a career, including personal interests, long-term goals, and potential for growth.

2. "The Importance of Passion in Choosing a Career" (Krumboltz, J., 2012): This source highlights the importance of personal interests and passions when selecting a career, as it can lead to increased job satisfaction and fulfillment.

3. "Challenging Career Choices: A Balancing Act Between Personal and Professional Goals" (Betz, A., 2015): This source discusses the benefits and challenges of pursuing a challenging career, and the potential for personal and professional growth in such fields.

Don't forget to check out my autobiography section about James Constantine. It outlines foods that are rich in nutrients essential for mental function and academic performance - a healthier alternative to caffeine.

Take care,
JAMES.
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Molly’s Answer

What a great question!

It sounds like you have an awareness of what you enjoy, what is challenging for you, and what brings you energy. Those are all very important things to consider when choosing a major/career. If being challenged in your work is important to you, then I would suggest going with a subject area that does not feel "easy" for you. I think it is important to find things that you enjoy within any major/career as it can help you stay motivated to keep moving forward. I have not met anyone who loves every single thing about their job or area of study, so just remember that it is okay to acknowledge the things you may not like as much.
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Chloe’s Answer

I would say if things are easy for you, its probably because you have a natural interest and intrinsic ability to excel at it! Your career should be fun and enjoyable for you, so follow what feels good and makes you happy.
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ash’s Answer

Excellent query! There's no need to fret if you haven't yet discovered your career direction. It's perfectly normal to switch careers multiple times throughout your life.

1. Identify your passions - what are the activities you love so much that you would engage in them even without monetary compensation?
2. Discover what ignites your curiosity - which topics naturally captivate your interest?
3. Recognize your inherent talents - in which areas do you find comprehension effortless?
4. Familiarize yourself with the employment market - what abilities are employers currently seeking?
5. Explore in-demand jobs - which roles are companies willing to offer high salaries for?
6. Find the intersection - where do your passions, talents, and market demands coincide?

This is a fantastic starting point. Once you've identified a few potential positions, reach out to individuals who currently occupy those roles and gain insights from their experiences. If possible, spend some time observing them at work to get a practical understanding of the job.
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Rebecca’s Answer

Thank you for your question. I am glad to hear that you have careers you are targeting.
Below are my suggestions:
1. Explore the entry criteria of both astrophysics and biochemistry in the college
2..Attend the information session of both subjects in the college. Speak to the professors of the astrophysics on your concern and hear the advice
3. Speak to someone who are working on both subjects
4. Seek guidance from your mentor, school career counselor, your parents, etc
5. Decide which career path you will go towards
Hope this helps! Good Luck!
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Olivia’s Answer

I always says pick something that will make you happy. It is always good to challenge yourself but will you be happy in the end. Even if a career is easier for you it will come with its own challenges but if it makes you happy and aligns with your personal goals, I would choose that career.
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Josh’s Answer

Hello there!

Choosing a college major is indeed a significant and thrilling step. The array of majors available at most colleges and universities is continually expanding. So, the first step is to explore all the different possibilities available to you. Keep in mind that most institutions allow students to switch majors, usually during their first or second year, although this can vary from one place to another.

If you're interested in fields like Biochemistry or Physics, consider starting with a General Math/Science Degree. This will cover most of the prerequisite courses and give you a taste of the subject matter before you delve into a more specialized major. Some institutions offer a "General Engineering" program or something similar, which covers the prerequisites for various engineering fields (Electrical, Mechanical, Petroleum, etc.).

Beyond selecting a major, gaining practical experience is often more crucial than the education itself. This is because it provides you with a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience. If you can, secure an internship for the summer before you start your degree program. During your first year, make an effort to connect with professors, teaching assistants, and fellow students. Seek opportunities to engage in research, lab work, or internships in your department of interest to gain additional experience.

Think of your college journey as building a cake, layer by layer. With each new layer, you'll gain a clearer idea of your direction and build leverage over time. This will generally be more beneficial than the degree itself. However, remember to take one day at a time and always keep in mind that "your network is your net worth." College is a great opportunity to connect with a diverse group of people and explore various paths. So, find your passion and never stop learning.
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Christina’s Answer

I agree with several people above. I would aim for something that truly ignites your spark. Our minds change a lot while we are growing and learning and many of us don't know exactly what we want to do for a while. It took me until I was almost 25 with an amazing mentor to realize my true passion in a job was in leadership. Start by exploring yourself a little more. Take some personality tests - you can get many free ones online. I recommend https://www.16personalities.com/ as it is free, and helps you understand yourself better to guide your career. Then, once you have an idea-- seek out on here or through friends/family or LinkedIn people who are in that career and ask them for the biggest strengths and challenges that come along with being in that career. It can give you real insight as to how to proceed.
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Juney’s Answer

Can't emphasize the above suggestions to reach out to individuals with these backgrounds & in these professions enough: Perhaps you have a friend, family member or other connection that works in these disciplines to have a chat with? A quick 15-30 minute chat about their role & responsibilities, day-to-day schedule & tasks, and what they find most meaningful & most challenging can provide you with a wealth of insight into what you'd be up for in practice. You can look up suggested questions for a chat like this online :)

You can also look up similar material online: Perhaps you can find interviews or articles about these roles & responsibilities!

Juney recommends the following next steps:

Find resources on these roles & responsibilities in practice online (interviews, articles, etc.).
Reach out to your network (family, friends, other connections) to have a 1:1 chat with someone in these roles.
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Alise’s Answer

Be open minded. I think it's important to take entry level classes that allow you to explore both options, to see if they are a "good fit". What you think you like, may be different than what you actually like, so be open to taking the classes that let you learn more. I would also suggest other activities that are related to these career fields, that allow you to learn what a day-in-the-life really looks like for these careers. If you want to explore conversations, get on LinkedIn and start following folks that are in these fields. If you want to talk to them to learn what their actual job looks like day-to-day - DM them and ask if you can have an exploratory conversation because you're interested in learning more as you move into college and think about declaring a major. Good luck!!!
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Patrick’s Answer

DH, I find it absolutely fascinating that you're considering your career options with such thoughtful consideration. It's not easy to decide between a major that matches your personal aspirations and one that's been a dream since childhood. Remember, it's important to strike a balance between enjoyment, challenge, and personal fulfillment.

Looking at the specific paths you're considering, Biochemistry, which could pave the way to a career as a pediatrician, is a commendable choice. It's perfectly in line with your ambition to make a significant difference in the world, particularly in the lives of children. This route provides an opportunity to interact and work closely with people, enabling you to make a positive impact on an individual level.

Alternatively, diving into astrophysics or potentially one that I think is equally challenging, aerospace engineering, despite its challenges, could bring your childhood dream to life. It's a thrilling field that delves into the infinite expanse of the universe. Remember, tackling a challenging subject can be extremely fulfilling, and surmounting obstacles can foster personal and intellectual development.

DH, it's important to take into account your strengths and interests, as well as your passion for making a difference and your preference for a socially-engaged career. Biochemistry, astrophysics, and/or aerospace engineering all have fulfilling social aspects, albeit in different ways. Biochemistry offers direct patient interaction, while astrophysics and/or aerospace engineering could involve teaming up with a community of fellow researchers and scientists.

Ultimately, DH, the goal is to find a balance that truly resonates with your heart and stimulates your mind. Ponder on what genuinely excites you and think about the kind of impact you wish to leave on the world. No matter the path you embark on, your dedication and commitment will surely guide you towards success. Wishing you all the best on your journey, and always remember, chasing your passion is an adventure that's worth every step.
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