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How can you decide your career for the rest of your life?

I like to think of myself as a Renaissance Man. I strive my hardest to be great at everything. I find it confusing how people are able to single out a specific occupation that they can commit to for the rest of their life. If someone can help me with what I should do to figure out what job I want, that would be very helpful!
#medicine #career-decisions

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Cheri’s Answer

The fact is that you really don't have to decide on one career for the rest of your life. True, there are some people who know from childhood what they want to be when they grow up. My brother was one of those lucky ones. He practically came from the womb as an Engineer. But. experts tell us that we may have as many as 7+career paths in a life time. I haven't made it to 7, but I have made 3 major career profession changes so far. I spent my first 15 yrs. in retail mgmt., the second move was to recruiting/career consulting for the last 30 yrs and I am currently preparing for a 3rd change into chaplaincy work. I recommend that you prepare and go with an area of work that you enjoy and that interests you. Spend a few years learning all you can in that area, working and growing into increasing levels of responsibility and knowledge in the job and see where it takes you. You will know when life takes you in another direction. Trust your inner voice and invite 3 or more experienced people to mentor you. Whatever you do, do it with enthusiasm, show up everyday ready to learn and work hard. Trust you heart and listen.

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Nilabja’s Answer

Hi,
It's really good to be good in many things rather than one. If you read about a little about Post modern theories and philosophies and observe a little bit about the art movement you can develop a comprehensive understanding of the time we live in. We are living in a time where we have to be many things at the same time and transform ourselves from time to time to fit into a need or description given to us. We also need to evolve and adapt according to the environment around us. I am sure there are a lot of people who has a very definite parh to walk but there are a significant number of people who are just like you. Even I am from this category of people. I started out as an artist and then became a teacher and then I have jumped again to be a career coach and an entrepreneur. So you see its really going towards a bigger picture rather than living in a closed loop.
Now coming to the solution part, I guess you can start by a little bit of contemplation of what was your life all about till now and what is that one thing that has been common in all the shifting mind frames. I call is the 'core' of existence. After you get to realise the core its easier to find a job which can resonate with your core. Trust me there can be a fusion of jobs which can be your answer. You are capable of finding a new genre of job for yourself as well as the company you would work for. Always remember jobs are something which doenot get you bored but happiness is what you will find in the time you invest outside of your job and in very rarely in the job. If you need to share more you can always reach me.
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Nanci’s Answer

Dear Shakoor,

I can only speak abt my own experience and maybe it will shed some light on yours. After I finished High School in 1976, I had no idea what to do with my life. I liked doing art, but I wanted to make a decent living. I didn’t want to depend on anyone to support me. I believed that, to have a job that would be interesting and make money, I would need education. Even though I didn’t know what career I wanted, I started taking basic classes at City University of NY, College of Staten Island. I was able to choose classes I liked. I studied art, literature, history, philosophy, psychology and other classes.


An Associate Degree in Liberal Arts required some credits in math. I took a class that was challenging. I had to work at it. I came close to dropping the class, but I kept at it and began to understand it and do well. I had heard that people who can do math can get work, but I didn’t know what kind of work. I thought maybe teaching. I asked the professor what kind of work I could get using math, and I learned about engineering. I looked into engineering and took some basic classes. I had to work hard but I did well. I earned an Associate Degree in Engineering Science at The College of Staten Island, then transferred to Columbia University School of Engineering, and subsequently received Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Civil Engineering.


I have been working 30 years since then. I have done interesting and amazing work, and traveled some. I’ve always been able to get work. I am now an Engineer of Record for a major airport project and I head a department of structural engineers. I enjoy the opportunity to pass on knowledge that I have acquired throughout my career, and to watch young engineers grow and develop their skills. The work is rewarding and the pay has allowed me to raise children and live in a nice town in NJ.


I recommend the approach I took of going to college and taking classes that you like. You will probably hit on some field that interests you and learn about the jobs that you can get in the field. I also recommend engineering. There is lots of work to be done and there aren’t enough people who study engineering.

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Richard’s Answer

Try to find opportunities to pursue research. Volunteer at your local hospital or low-income clinic. Ask physicians, PAs or other clinical providers if you can shadow them.
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Alecia’s Answer

You don't.
Get a major that is flexible and not too specialized if you are not sure on career path.
Your journey will ebb & flow.
Don't over think it.
Just work VERY hard in every job you do, and you'll always have job opportunities.
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Samuel’s Answer

Shakoor, I strongly recommend you look into Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs and business founders are typically forced to wear a lot of different hats (e.g. manager, engineer, salesman, marketer, etc.) to make their new business succeed in the early stages, so it's vital that these individuals have a wide range of knowledge and skill and be able to learn new things in different fields quickly. Typically specialists (people who work in one primary field) are hired after the business gains traction.

If you consider yourself a Renaissance Man, then entrepreneurship may be the best fit for you. It is not however for everyone as starting a business can involve a lot of risk and not everyone feels the same way as you - some people believe they are a certain type of person (e.g. an engineer, a sales person, a manager, etc.) and they can't get themselves out of the box their entire life.

If you think you may be interested in entrepreneurship, I recommend looking into the entrepreneurial community around you to meet people and looking into the most fun part about entrepreneurship - thinking of ideas and businesses and starting to develop a business.

I see you're in Apex, so a couple places you could check out that aren't too far away are HQ Raleigh (https://hq.community/) and the Entrepreneurship Garage at NC State.

HQ Raleigh is a hub for entrepreneurs that holds free events, pitch opportunities, and houses startups in their locations.

And the Garage at NC State is a prototyping space and place to meet other entrepreneurs on the NC State campus. The Garage is for students only, but I'm sure if you reach out to the email at this link (https://entrepreneurship.ncsu.edu/spaces/garage/) and say you are interested in a tour / talking to someone about entrepreneurship , they would be more than happy to set something up.

Samuel recommends the following next steps:

Learn about entrepreneurship
Reach out to HQ Raleigh or the NC State Entrepreneurial community to meet some entrepreneurs and learn more.
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Bennett’s Answer

Research shows that the vast majority of professionals follow a nonlinear career path. A psychology major might work in a bank as a loan officer as an example. Her knowledge, skills and abilities may align with what is required to be an effective loan officer. Also, given her previous work experience, she undoubtedly has many transferrable skills. It is important to be open to possible career paths considering the endless possibilities for challenge and growth both professionally and personally. Unfortunately many students fixate on monetary goals and societal pressure to become a doctor, for example, not knowing how truly competitive and selective this process can be. Sacrifice is in the eye of the beholder and a medical career is a chosen vocation regardless of perceived sacrifices to achieve that goal. Students need to explore often and early to see if a possible career is a good fit.

Bennett recommends the following next steps:

Volunteer at a non-profit clinic to become accustomed to medical issues clients present.
Work as a scribe in a hospital among doctors, nurses, PAs and other health care professionals to learn first hand medical terminology
Join student organizations on campus to learn leadership roles such as fund raising, event coordination, and communication skills.
Work on campus in a lab or research setting to acquire hands on knowledge
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Bennett’s Answer

Research shows that the vast majority of professionals follow a nonlinear career path. A psychology major might work in a bank as a loan officer as an example. Her knowledge, skills and abilities may align with what is required to be an effective loan officer. Also, given her previous work experience, she undoubtedly has many transferrable skills. It is important to be open to possible career paths considering the endless possibilities for challenge and growth both professionally and personally. Unfortunately many students fixate on monetary goals and societal pressure to become a doctor, for example, not knowing how truly competitive and selective this process can be. Sacrifice is in the eye of the beholder and a medical career is a chosen vocation regardless of perceived sacrifices to achieve that goal. Students need to explore often and early to see if a possible career is a good fit.

Bennett recommends the following next steps:

Volunteer at a non-profit clinic to become accustomed to medical issues clients present.
Work as a scribe in a hospital among doctors, nurses, PAs and other health care professionals to learn first hand medical terminology
Join student organizations on campus to learn leadership roles such as fund raising, event coordination, and communication skills.
Work on campus in a lab or research setting to acquire hands on knowledge
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Sally’s Answer

Hi Shakoor!

Love your question. And yes, trying to decide on a career path can feel overwhelming. Ken's advice to you is solid. I am going to come at your question from a different angle.

You are to be commended for your 'renaissance man' approach and I bet you are an amazing young man. You note "I strive my hardest to be great at everything. " As a recovering perfectionist myself, I can totally relate to your drive to be the best no matter what you take on. Often it is people like you (and me), with many natural gifts, interests, and skills, who suffer the most career confusion. You sound like a curious, open, and intelligent person. So here is my advice.

First, take the pressure off to figure out exactly what you should be. If you really don't have an idea that feels right, don't sweat it. Take a year or two off--travel and work at a variety of jobs. Volunteer for a variety of organizations in a variety of roles. As a career coach for the past 25 years, I often say that I think we should leave young people alone until they are 24 or 25, when they have started to learn more about what makes them tick, and what makes them happy, as well as unhappy, before we start pressuring them to make a career choice.

Second, be sure to consider the four factors of successful career planning: interests, personality type, preferred skills & abilities, and your core values. We often push students to make decisions based on what they are good at (i.e. skills) without considering the four pillars. For example, I was a gifted mathematics student so everyone encouraged me to study a career linked to math. This was a bad idea. As it turned out, yes, I was gifted at it, but my core values, interests, and extroverted personality were much more suited to helping occupations that make a difference in the world (in my view, of course). And because I have a personality type linked to a high need for variety, I needed to make a career choice based on earning a degree that was broad in nature (often considered a generalist); one that allowed me to pursue different jobs every few years.

I recommend "Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type" by Paul D. Tieger. Most public libraries have copies of it. To determine your values, there are a number of free, online tools. And to determine interests, you can use something as simple as the Holland Codes, which you can find on-line at https://www.123test.com/holland-codes-career-tests/.

Bottom line, try not to sweat it. Many of my clients just look at 3 or 5 or 10 year career windows, instead of the pressure of 'this is something I will have to commit to for the rest of my life'. Try dating a few career choices before you decide there's one you'd like to marry :).

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Ken’s Answer


Congratulations on being interested in finding the right career to follow.. It takes a special person to enter into a specific career field and meet the demands which that career area presents. The first step is to get to know yourself to see if you share the personality traits which make one successful in that area. The next step is doing networking to meet and talk to and possibly shadow people doing what you might think that you want to do to see if this is something that you really want to do, as a career area could look much different on the inside than it looks from the outside.  When I was doing college recruiting, I encountered too many students, who skipped these important steps, and ended up in a career/job for which they were ill suited.

Ken recommends the following next steps:

The first step is to take an interest and aptitude test and have it interpreted by your school counselor to see if you share the personality traits necessary to enter the field. You might want to do this again upon entry into college, as the interpretation might differ slightly due to the course offering of the school. However, do not wait until entering college, as the information from the test will help to determine the courses that you take in high school. Too many students, due to poor planning, end up paying for courses in college which they could have taken for free in high school.
Next, when you have the results of the testing, talk to the person at your high school and college who tracks and works with graduates to arrange to talk to, visit, and possibly shadow people doing what you think that you might want to do, so that you can get know what they are doing and how they got there. Here are some tips: ## http://www.wikihow.com/Network ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-questions-to-ask-your-network-besides-can-you-get-me-a-job?ref=carousel-slide-1 ##
Locate and attend meetings of professional associations to which people who are doing what you think that you want to do belong, so that you can get their advice. These associations may offer or know of intern, coop, shadowing, and scholarship opportunities. These associations are the means whereby the professionals keep abreast of their career area following college and advance in their career. You can locate them by asking your school academic advisor, favorite teachers, and the reference librarian at your local library. Here are some tips: ## https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/find-professional-associations.aspx?&frd=true ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-tips-for-navigating-your-first-networking-event ##
It is very important to express your appreciation to those who help you along the way to be able to continue to receive helpful information and to create important networking contacts along the way. Here are some good tips: ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-informational-interview-thank-you-note-smart-people-know-to-send?ref=recently-published-2 ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-tips-for-writing-a-thank-you-note-thatll-make-you-look-like-the-best-candidate-alive?bsft_eid=7e230cba-a92f-4ec7-8ca3-2f50c8fc9c3c&bsft_pid=d08b95c2-bc8f-4eae-8618-d0826841a284&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20171020&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20171020&bsft_clkid=edfe52ae-9e40-4d90-8e6a-e0bb76116570&bsft_uid=54658fa1-0090-41fd-b88c-20a86c513a6c&bsft_mid=214115cb-cca2-4aec-aa86-92a31d371185&bsft_pp=2 ##
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Melissa’s Answer

Shakoor, This is such great question. But, can I let you in a little secret? Believe it or not, no one knows exactly that what they want to do. Sometimes people see something on tv and think it might be cool. But it is actually really hard to choose what you want to do. It takes a lot of time and self reflection over many many years. I know this because I was first in my family to go to college and graduate. When I graduated from UMass Amherst, I had an idea of what I wanted to do. I had taken four summers interning in law firms all across the city. I thought for sure I was going to go to law school then I graduated in the middle of the recession and I need to make some really hard decisions quickly.

My parents worked so hard to give me this opportunity and I didn't want to let them down. So when I graduated I choose something that my parents wanted me to do. I studied to be a lawyer. Although, it made my parents very happy. I wasn't. I came to very important moment in my life and I had choose between what would make my parents happy and what would make me happy.

I thought about the vision i had for myself. That maybe I should take some time to explore. I decided that taking on too much debt wouldn't be such a good idea. So i decided to skip law school and go and learn more about business simply because I never knew any one who ran a business before. I worked at this start up business out of college and boy did I learn a lot. I learned what things I liked and what responsibilities that I didn't like. That was huge for me. Eventually, I started saying to myself, I only want to do the things I like. I only want to do jobs that I find interesting. So I let my curiosity lead the way and that Shakoor, is actually how people find the careers they love. They follow their curiosity from one job to the next and they design a career they love by listening to themselves and find opportunities that play to their strengths.

Tell me about some of the things you follow on instagram, twitter, and snap chat. Why did you choose them? What did you find interesting about them? Wether or not you may know it, I am sure if I looked at your social media feed I could tell you what things interest you and we could figure our the next best step based off of your interest. How does that sound?

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