How did YOU choose your career?

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ThatGuy
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by ThatGuy » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:05 am

sawhorse wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:45 pm
xenochrony wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:40 pm
I have a late HS daughter.

Perhaps painfully obvious, but I think the path forward is to dig deep introspectively and to discover what are our passions and talents are. Once we discover this, we are 90% of the way there. We just have to be really honest with ourselves.
The thing is, a lot of careers are very different in reality to what those on the outside think.
This is why I intend to have ThatKid shadow friends and family in high school. The more shadowing the better.

For instance, with the recent grumbling by doctors, how many would still have pursued that path if they had been able to shadow a real live doc for a week over summer break?
Work is the curse of the drinking class - Oscar Wilde

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by forgeblast » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:19 am

Was not sure what I wanted to do. My parents were a teacher and a pipe fitter.
I worked a lot in High School in Retail Sales and through college in warehouses did not want to do either.
Did really well in math in high school but my spelling skills were horrible(thank you spell checker :) ) and our science classes took off for spelling.
I did art with my grandmother and took a few psychology classes in high school. Realized there was a degree in art therapy, but to be certified you needed a masters.
Went and got a BS in Art Ed with minor in psychology to have a job to fall back on, and
then a Masters in Art Therapy. Realized I like teaching a whole lot more then the therapy part, so did my thesis on art therapy in schools. During this time I was also able to take studio art classes (graduate level) in sculpture, jewelry, and metalsmithing. Won a few best in shows and moved to
NC to teach art. Reality hit, cost of living, and talking with engineers, programmers etc around the RTP and I started taking classes in programming at night at NC state but moved back home before I could finish up.
Stayed with teaching and I am looking at anywhere from 11-16 years for retirement.
I carve a lot now and still forge, sell part time at craft shows etc...
When my daughter says she wants to be a teacher my wife (special ed/elementary ed teacher) both tell her she has to do something different education is just not the job it was.
Best advice I can give is tell her to get a Career not a Hobby. A career pays you and you pay to do a hobby. That and work a bunch of jobs you will find some that you cannot stand.

ThatGuy
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by ThatGuy » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:20 am

Watty wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:21 am
One thing I would suggest for a college student is to plan on getting a very strong minor degree or even a double major. That way you can switch majors to get a degree in what was going to by your minor if it turns out that is a better fit for you.
I see this as a STEM focus gets a manager to actually talk to you. A Liberal Arts focus lets you actually impress the manager.

I can do the technical stuff required at my job. But what I lack, and what I've seen have the greatest impact on careers, is being able to sell a solution to the people who can make decisions. Written communication skills are by far the most valuable in modern business.
Work is the curse of the drinking class - Oscar Wilde

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RickBoglehead
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:31 am

I fell into it.

Most people change jobs many times in their career, unlike 50 years ago.

My first job was not to my liking, but it was a job coming out of college where I didn't shave my beard and wore a 3 piece corduroy suit. I got the results you would expect. A company cancelled their interviews at the last minute, in violation of school policy, so they sent a former student who worked there to interview me. He invited me to visit. They tried to reneg, school got involved and said "nope, he gets to visit or you're banned from campus". During the visit, they made an offer, sure I would not accept. I needed a job, I did accept. Programming at a bank. Hated it...

2 years later went back to grad school and got my MBA. Got recruited by Big Blue. Warned against taking the job due to crappy location. Took it anyway, it's Big Blue, what can go wrong? 15 months later quit. Moved and worked for a reseller of Big Blue equipment. Lasted a year.

Was having dinner with some friends, one of whom was an internal auditor at Fidelity. He was discussing his current project, writing up how one area of the company had a huge need for a specific talent that they couldn't find. He stopped talking, and said "it's you". I laughed at him. He got me an interview at Fidelity, and they asked about my experience in direct mail. I told them I had mailed several hundred pieces in my last job, with my wife helping me apply the stamps. They laughed in my face, then hired me a month later. I filled a new role at the company that had never been filled before, and created a whole new way of utilizing what was new technology at the time.

In a short period I realized that I had found my career - direct marketing. That evolved into internet marketing. I became an expert in the field and the rest is history... I have mailed literally billions of pieces of mail - solo direct mail, catalogs, etc., and sent enough emails to go from here to Jupiter and back (wait, emails don't take any space)... :wink:

So the short answer is - NETWORKING. It's also the way most people should find their jobs.
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cockersx3
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by cockersx3 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:38 am

GerryL wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:40 pm

I'm a big believer in taking time off between HS and college, or after one year of college just to get a feel for what it is like. Back at college in my 30s I saw so many students who treated higher ed like an extension of high school. A "gap decade" may not be as feasible nowadays with so much competition for career jobs, but I could not imagine having done it any other way.
Thanks. I've started to suggest this to my daughter as well. I sometimes wonder whether the idea of college immediately after HS is really the best approach nowadays, in light of the cost of school and the associated downside risk of choosing the wrong major. We have committed to paying for 4 years (8 semesters) of our state's flagship college costs for each of our kids, but have also emphasized that the offer does not have an expiration date - so they shouldn't worry about finding "the right major" as a 17 year old....

We have, however, advised our daughter that she will need to do something to support herself after high school, since this is an expectation of being an adult. Trade school and / or the military is on the list of options she is considering.

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cockersx3
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by cockersx3 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:40 am

depressed wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:57 pm
I was a skydiving instructor. I just kind of fell into it.
:sharebeer

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cockersx3
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by cockersx3 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:45 am

stoptothink wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:01 pm
I know very few people, even the uber successful ones, who had a clue what they wanted to do before entering college. I wouldn't be putting pressure on your daughter to have a plan right now, just make sure she figures out what she is good at and works hard at everything she does. Those who keep grinding tend to figure it out...eventually.
That has been my experience as well. Very few people I knew in HS actually ended up doing anything meaningful in the career field that they had originally planned. Judging by the comments so far in this thread, it seems like this is common for others as well. I have told her to do well and keep her options open, but I'm still somewhat frustrated that I can't help more than that general advice....

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cockersx3
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by cockersx3 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:58 am

celia wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:08 pm
I would suggest you have your daughter ask her HS counselor for an aptitude test to take home to see where her natural talents lie. There are no "right" or "wrong" answers, but the results can point her to things that would appeal to her, even if she isn't aware of them already. For example, one of my kids had a result showing he would be good at something that sounded like "traffic routing" (think stop lights, on ramps, speeds). At the time, "routing on the internet" was not even known but he ended up working in a similar field.
Agree - I am somewhat surprised that this isn't already a standard thing for kids that age. I remember getting several vocational aptitude tests in middle school (lo, those many years ago :D ) but apparently that is not as common? My wife took the ASVAB's back in HS, and she said that seemed to help her figure out what she wanted to do. Mentioned this to our daughter and she seemed interested in the idea - worth a shot....

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Watty
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Watty » Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:17 pm

cockersx3 wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:38 am
GerryL wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:40 pm

I'm a big believer in taking time off between HS and college, or after one year of college just to get a feel for what it is like. Back at college in my 30s I saw so many students who treated higher ed like an extension of high school. A "gap decade" may not be as feasible nowadays with so much competition for career jobs, but I could not imagine having done it any other way.
Thanks. I've started to suggest this to my daughter as well. I sometimes wonder whether the idea of college immediately after HS is really the best approach nowadays, in light of the cost of school and the associated downside risk of choosing the wrong major. We have committed to paying for 4 years (8 semesters) of our state's flagship college costs for each of our kids, but have also emphasized that the offer does not have an expiration date - so they shouldn't worry about finding "the right major" as a 17 year old....

We have, however, advised our daughter that she will need to do something to support herself after high school, since this is an expectation of being an adult. Trade school and / or the military is on the list of options she is considering.
I would be cautious about encouraging a gap year unless there is some structure to what she will be doing.

I know little about it now but you might have her look into the Peace Corps to see what that is like now. Doing a year with some organization like that would be a lot different than just working at McDonalds for a year.

It is just anecdotal but I have two nieces that decided to not go straight to college even though there parents would have paid for it. They both went through a soap opera of low paying jobs, living with boyfriends, many tatoos, and then having babies by the time they were 20. I also have a nephew who drove around the country on a motorcycle for the better part of a year then did go back to college and is now working on an MBA. I think the big difference was that he had a plan to travel and not just hang out.

You might be able to find some statistics about how many students that take a break year actually go to college.

You could also talk with her to see if a vocational school might be better for her. There is a lot of demand for skilled people and that could be a lot better than going to college for a few years and dropping out, or getting some degree that does not lead to a career.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by carolinaman » Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:23 pm

I did things rather backwards. Dropped out of college after 1.5 years and started working with an airline. A couple of years later I got a job in their computer operations department and carved out a nice 44 year IT career. IT was in its early days when I started. Few, if any, colleges had computer science departments which worked to my advantage. I did get my degree at night to advance my career into IT management.

It would be very difficult for someone to replicate what I did because the best opportunities today would go to college grads with degrees in IT fields. I interviewed and hired lots of IT talent over the years. There were quite a few 2nd career types coming from teaching, engineering, attorneys, and other professions. I also hired some college grads whose degrees were unrelated to IT. Some of these were really excellent staff. I hired a number with advanced degrees including PHDs. Some of these were not very good.

I think it is pushing the envelope to expect all HS grads to know what they want to be when they grow up. Ideally, they should have some idea of the field they want to pursue so they can choose a college major but that can change for many. The worst situation might be for someone to choose after HS and feel locked into their choice during college even though they realize their choice was a mistake.

rgs92
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by rgs92 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:31 pm

Big companies set up desks at my college and interviewed me there and one of them hired me. (For IT work.)

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Glockenspiel » Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:32 pm

I chose my career as a civil engineer during my senior year of high school. After taking a few CAD classes, an architectural class, and always being interested in how roads and bridges were designed and built, I decided to become a civil engineer with the intent of working on transportation projects. Now, I specialize in water resources and do work on transportation projects, only doing the drainage design on these projects instead of designing the roadway.

Oh, and my parents were a nurse's aide and a laborer at a local manufacturing plant. I was the first person in my family to get their bachelor's degree AND work in the field that they obtained their degree in.

jodydavis
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by jodydavis » Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:42 pm

1. Was good at school/science/math in high school.
2. Majored in science in college. Found out I was not very good at it.
3. Summer jobs at biotech and law firms - valuable experience. Confirmed not cut out for science.
4. Figured I would go to law school, since I didn't have any other strong preference.
5. After college, worked in management consulting for two years. Invaluable intro to business. Not cut out for business.
6. Went to law school. Found to my surprise I loved it.
7. Worked in a law firm for a few years. Confirmed I didn't want to stay at firm.
8. Did a fellowship and transitioned into academia. Now a tenured law professor, and I love my job.

Basically, I chose a career through trial and error, and a good deal of luck, which seems to be consistent with a lot of other folks on the board. It's no surprise that folks wind up in different places than they initially expected, since I think it's really impossible to know for sure what you will like to do and be good at doing until you try it. This is especially true in high school, where there is so little exposure to the work world and the huge range of potential jobs/careers. All you can do is take a best guess (more like a working hypothesis), try a lot of things, and adapt and adjust as necessary.

fasteddie911
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by fasteddie911 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:16 pm

I'm in medicine. My father was in medicine and nudged me in that direction. I wasn't 100% sure entering college and I was thinking of some alternatives, but after taking some science courses I actually started to enjoy the content (more than I did in HS) and somewhat understood the nature and benefits of pursuing medicine (job security, income potential, etc.). I think it's ridiculous kids know their career path, or are expected to know this, as a teen. This is somewhat of a flaw in our education/college system. My spouse and I both didn't get much career coaching as teens from the school. The main push was to get into college but there wasn't much thought or planning as to why. My spouse particularly didn't get any career guidance from her parents even, and kind of took classes and a major that sounded interesting and floated around for a bit after college finding her interest, which is currently an engineering field. Yet this may be temporary. In hindsight, my spouse wishes she got more career and college guidance and exposure at an earlier age from her parents. She regrets not pursuing a healthcare related field as she was actively discouraged by her MD parent.

LawEgr1
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by LawEgr1 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:22 pm

galving wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:53 pm
I had a similar interest in Math & Science in High School. Chemistry was particularly interesting.
Chemical Engineering was on the radar screen early and I targeted universities with strong programs that were large enough to allow exposure to other fields of study.

Quickly found that 'Problem Solving' is hard wired in my DNA and helping 'teach' people to solve problems was even more rewarding.
A Career Plan is a place to start, recommend to keep it flexible enough to continue to grow.

Bottom line is to Always Be Learning. . . take a new opportunity when your learning curve flattens out.
[*]Continuous Manufacturing - 8 years
[*]Technology - 4 years
[*]Manufacturing Leadership - 3 years
[*]Strategic Planning & Business Development - 3 years
[*]Business Management - 2 years
This is eerie.

You must be my mental doppelganger. I would've posted the exact same thing, all the way from ChemE to career transitions to philosophy.

So my response to OP is exactly what is written above with exception of Strat. Planning / BM, still to come :sharebeer

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by sfchris » Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:23 pm

One thing that really helped me was a hard factory job and a crappy retail job while in college. I realized I definitely wasn't a hard worker and unless I wanted to be homeless I needed a job that paid well and was easy. Focused my energies on using my intellectual abilities and now I am posting this in my underwear from home on a Wednesday afternoon ( :D sorry for that visual). I think some adversity in young people's lives goes a long way in focusing their mind.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by prairieman » Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:54 pm

I had no idea that n high school what I wanted to do and so enrolled as an unclassified major in the only big college in my area. I was good at math and science and so took lots of chemistry, physics, and math for the first year, but remained unclassified.
The second year I took an elective Earth Sciences class and really enjoyed it. I majored in it and then went on to get a PhD in the field. This led, eventually, to a very rewarding career.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by nisiprius » Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:20 pm

I looked at a PDP-1 computer, at an MIT "open house" in 1962. They demonstrated it playing music and running "Spacewar!" I just experienced an instant "Wow!" response. It took me a dozen years, including a graduate degree in a different field, to realize that computer programming was what I wanted to do in life.

The idea of "choice," in the sense of conscious volition, didn't come into it. It was just struck-by-lightning thing, much as when I met the woman who became my wife.
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by likegarden » Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:23 pm

I think it also depends on what the high school kid sees at home. My parents and grandparents never had an opportunity to go to college, they pushed me though. My wife and I went to college, I choose to become a mechanical engineer. I became an engineer because I loved building balsa glider airplanes and had good grades in math, chemistry and physics in high school. After three 2-year jobs as a mechanical engineer, I specialized into controls engineering, learned also various computer languages, stayed with that for 30 years happily.

Our son also became a mechanical engineer. My high school grandson is very good in school and wants to study computer science, right now joined a successful robot group in high school. We 100% support him in his high school efforts, telling him to get into a good college he needs to get As and he buys into it. He also knows that we funded a college 529 fully.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by pejp » Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:17 pm

Did some summer work with a company my Dad's friend worked for, and they asked me back to work for them during my 'gap year' between leaving school and starting university (gap years are common in the UK). My 'gap year' has lasted 18 years so far.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by earlywynnfan » Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:31 pm

I wanted to be a teacher since HS and that's what I became.

I have two HS daughters right now. I've looked at the oldest since she was in pre-school and said to my wife, "She's going to be a kindergarten teacher." About a year ago, she walks up to us and says, "I want to be a kindergarten teacher." So she's on her way.

The youngest, I have no idea. I hope she gets an idea someday. Good thing the Community College is right down the road!

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by triceratop » Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:51 pm

I couldn't decide whether I liked math, physics (and chemistry), or computer science more. I did math in college; at the time it was clear that big data was going to be the next hot topic and I could make a load of money in it with basic stats skills but I wasn't interested in or ethically comfortable with mining people's personal information. Instead I went for a Ph.D. in an area where I could combine my interest in all three of those topics. Still working on that. Where that will take me next is not clear but the ride has certainly been interesting.

Oh, I don't have a career as such (yet). Maybe I'm a cautionary tale for your daughter.
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by sawhorse » Wed Nov 28, 2018 5:31 pm

ThatGuy wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:05 am
sawhorse wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:45 pm
xenochrony wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:40 pm
I have a late HS daughter.

Perhaps painfully obvious, but I think the path forward is to dig deep introspectively and to discover what are our passions and talents are. Once we discover this, we are 90% of the way there. We just have to be really honest with ourselves.
The thing is, a lot of careers are very different in reality to what those on the outside think.
This is why I intend to have ThatKid shadow friends and family in high school. The more shadowing the better.

For instance, with the recent grumbling by doctors, how many would still have pursued that path if they had been able to shadow a real live doc for a week over summer break?
Most medical school applicants have done shadowing. Some schools even require it. It's a practice I'm extremely uncomfortable with for the reasons stated in this article.

http://blogs.einstein.yu.edu/is-physici ... -practice/

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Elsebet » Wed Nov 28, 2018 5:56 pm

When I was very young I told everyone I wanted to be (no joke) either a veterinarian, a waitress, or a singer. When I was in 9th grade (1990-ish) I asked for a typewriter for Christmas (I wanted a computer but they were expensive) and instead my Dad actually suggested getting me a computer. I got one and afterward spent every minute of my free time on it, so when the time came it just made sense to go to college for something computer-related. My dad must have had some kind of special foresight to invest that kind of money on me back then.

I'm 42 now and still working in IT. I learn something new every day!
"...the man who adapts himself to his slender means and makes himself wealthy on a little sum, is the truly rich man..." ~Seneca

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Texgal17 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 6:28 pm

cockersx3 wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:15 pm
Hi Bogleheads!

I'd like to ask for this group's assistance to help me help my oldest daughter with some post-high-school planning. Many of her (early high-school) peers claim to have a plan for where there careers will go, and she is beginning to feel pressure that she should also have a life plan that will be ready to execute as soon as high school ends. I have consistently reassured her that it's not a race, and that she still has plenty of time to decide these kinds of questions before she graduates in a few years. Of course, I've reminded her that the best thing she can do for herself right now is to "keep her options open" by maintaining her good grades, keeping a challenging course schedule, and so on. But despite my reassurances, the pressure is still there....

My concern is that her school doesn't appear to put any framework around the thought process for how kids should be making these choices. While there is significant pressure to get kids on a college track, I don't see much in the way of career planning, such as bringing parents in to talk about their jobs and career paths. It just seems like the school's goal is to get them into college, without much regard for what they should study when they get there. Perhaps not coincidentally, I'm aware of many local, recent high school graduates that are enrolled in colleges without a clear / realistic (to me, anyway) path to an eventual job - so I'd like to do what I can to help her avoid that same fate.

So, I'd like to ask this group - what is your current job (or former job, if retired), and how did you decide to enter that profession? Very curious if others' paths to their careers was as haphazard as I feel like mine was - am really wondering if there even is a "right" process to follow to decide on a career. I plan to share the responses with my daughter, just to provide her with examples of how others navigated the transition to work.

I'll go first:
  • I'm a chemical process engineer. I was good in math and science in high school, and really liked chemistry - but did not want to be a scientist. So, I decided to borrow an insanely high amount of money (long since paid off) to become a chemical engineer. (Not really exaggerating here - my thought process on this was very short and simplistic.) One strange thing is that I now work in a branch of chemical engineering that did not even exist when I was in high school...
  • My wife is a special education teacher. She had once worked in a local summer camp for mentally handicapped students, and liked it enough to go to college for it. Same thing - didn't really put much thought into it....
Thanks in advance - looking forward to everyone's responses!
No planning here....right place right time....spent 31 years at the Post Office after taking an exam mentioned to me by another
co-worker at the grocery I worked at. I got lucky! And now retired on a pension at a fairly young age.... Many thanks go to that coworker who didn’t get hired....unfortunately.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Ilikesparklers » Wed Nov 28, 2018 6:30 pm

I didn't know what I wanted to be when I was in HS in Los Angeles, but I saw myself going to an East Coast liberal arts college, so that's what I did. I majored in Biology, since my grandfather was a doctor and it seemed more practical than majoring in English.

When I graduated from college, I still had no idea what I wanted to be. But I knew I wanted to live in NYC, so some college friends and I moved to the city.

My first real job was as a sales coordinator at a financial magazine. I loved the idea of working for a magazine, and I thought I'd transfer to a women's magazine. But I really did not like the sales department, especially when I was promoted to an actual sales role. I'm an introvert.

After 2 years in NYC, I had my fill, and I returned home to Los Angeles under the guise that I would pursue veterinary school. I moved in with family and enrolled in physics at a community college to get the prerequisites I needed to apply. I quickly realized that I wasn't really motivated to become a vet at the thought of having to relearn all the math I forgot for physics.

Between the age of 24-28 I did a bunch of odd jobs - costume assisting in TV/movies, data librarian at an entertainment magazine, etc. I realized that I preferred working in an environment where I didn't have to talk to people a great deal and where people were respectful. So around that time, I finally took my mom and grandfather's advice and decided to pursue becoming a CPA.

I passed the exam and got my first job in public accounting when I was 28/29. I didn't like public accounting because I didn't like having to worry about billable hours. After a couple years, I transitioned to corporate accounting. It's great! Good/smart people, pays well, it's quiet, routine, and that's what I like.

If I could do it all over again, I would probably pursue animal/environmental research abroad.

But hey, I'm happy with how things turned out so far!
Last edited by Ilikesparklers on Wed Nov 28, 2018 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pdavi21
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by pdavi21 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 6:31 pm

Just pick the highest paying career field (something in STEM). If it doesn't work, fail and lower standards until you succeed.

Why highest paying? So you spend a minimum time of your life being a slave and retire early as possible to spend more time with family.

EDIT: Also do the same thing as family members so you can be hired by Nepotism
Last edited by pdavi21 on Wed Nov 28, 2018 6:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by ClevrChico » Wed Nov 28, 2018 6:32 pm

I started doing small tech gig work in high school, and it just snowballed from there. Completed an MIS degree in early 2000. Now working at a Fortune 100 doing really interesting tech work. Those gigs + bogleheads are some of the best things that happened to me.

I think the key is job shadowing or part time work that interests you in high school.

Schools don't seem to have the resources for much guidance. Ours has to do fundraisers for books.

staythecourse
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by staythecourse » Wed Nov 28, 2018 6:36 pm

This is one of my big pet peeves on education in this country at the high school through college level. Folks (kids, parents, and schools) are too focused on getting into a superior college for their different reasons and spend NO time thinking about what to do with that education as a job goes for their next 40 years.

The ideal would be talking to your FRESHMAN high schooler or 8th grader about what type of stuff they like, i.e. math, science, reading, arguing, art, etc... If your their parent one should have a pretty good idea about their strengths by then and need to help guide them in reasonable career choices based on their interests as well. Then the ideal should be to have the kid start shadowing folks to see if it may be an field of interest or not. If it is great. If it isn't then keep looking. I would think it is much easier to motivate ANYONE to study if they see an end goal then just aimlessly taking tests to take tests.

That being said that doesn't help you at the point you are now. My advice, research BLS stats on current statistics on different jobs and their outlook going forward. This might be a good way of introducing different careers and their potential salaries. You and your wife know your salaries so you can put it in perspective as, "If you like this career it pays about the same as how you grew up" or "If you like this career you have to realize you will not be living as nice as you grew up" or "If you want to live better then how you grew up you need to consider these careers".

I'm much more direct and tactless about these issues then most. My wife's cousins visited this Thanksgiving and was horrified that one is graduating college in 4 months with a business degree and has no idea what she wants to do with it. Just pathetic and blame them and their parents.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by goodenyou » Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:58 pm

My dad was a pharmacist. The youngest of 5 sons of Italian-immigrant parents that didn't speak English and had no formal education. He was very proud to be educated and wanted me to go one "step further" to become a doctor. He believed that it was a noble profession. He planted the seed. I was 10 years old when he died unexpectedly. He was 35. I was good student and good in math and science. I went away to college at 16 and studied biomedical engineering and then to medical school and eventually became a specialist surgeon. I did it to honor him in many ways. He was a great man.
"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge" | Do you know how to make a rain dance work? Dance until it rains.

CMLAW1
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by CMLAW1 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:01 pm

I was an idiot in college and had zero direction. Once I graduated with an English major I felt like I had no real path to a career.

I studied for the LSAT to go to Law School. I hated studying and quit after a few months. I worked an internship at the accounting firm my dad worked for in New York City. The job was boring and again, I hated it. I knew a desk job with a train and subway type commute was not for me.

All throughout I was coaching high school basketball. I loved it and it was my true passion. I didn’t want to join the rat race of doing the college assistant thing because of the travelling, low pay, no job security etc. I got my masters in Physical Education at a local university and became a gym teacher. I still coach basketball, get to have the summers off with my young family, have good benefits, etc.

Like any job, it’s has its ups and downs but I mostly love it because coaching and helping kids is my passion. I followed what I loved and I turned it into a career. The only way to find what you love is to try various things.

Work first. Then go to college. Everyone is obsessed with starting college right out of high school but in reality most 18 year olds now a days have no clue wha they want. Work various jobs. Make connections. Then focus in on a career.

3504PIR
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by 3504PIR » Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:28 pm

My daughter, who is a sophomore in university, is studying hotel management. She grew up in Europe and paid attention to the staff as we traveled around and stayed in a variety of hotels. During our last 2 years we tended to stay in suites and had personal staff whom she began speaking to in an effort to understand their profession, schooling, etc. She decided in her junior year of high school and followed up with her choice of school, etc. I was a little shocked, but very happy for her as it is a great field, and suits her well. If it wasn’t for that exposure, she would be somewhat lost I think.

I became an Army officer because it was a way to delay going to law school for a few years. Turned out I really enjoyed it and ended up having a career. I wouldn’t have made that decision if I hadn’t been exposed to it in the first place, much like my daughter.

Back to your daughter, ask yourself what she has been exposed to in her 17ish years. Where do you live? What do you do as a family? What do her friends and relatives expose her to? Where has she worked so far? Those are all rhetorical, but relevant in the process. You were 100% correct that it isn’t a race. Very good advice. I would examine what she has been exposed to to find answers, and if it’s not a lot, send her out to see what’s out there after graduation.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Fallible » Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:31 pm

cockersx3 wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:38 am
GerryL wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:40 pm

I'm a big believer in taking time off between HS and college, or after one year of college just to get a feel for what it is like. Back at college in my 30s I saw so many students who treated higher ed like an extension of high school. A "gap decade" may not be as feasible nowadays with so much competition for career jobs, but I could not imagine having done it any other way.
Thanks. I've started to suggest this to my daughter as well. I sometimes wonder whether the idea of college immediately after HS is really the best approach nowadays, in light of the cost of school and the associated downside risk of choosing the wrong major. ...
Another way to look at this, and an important one, is that college itself can be, and often is, the place to discover yourself and what you want to be and how well you are suited for it. High school and college counselors certainly can help, but I'm sure the best of them realize the process takes time, that it can't be rushed, and that self-discovery varies with the individual. Some will need more time than others to find the right majors and careers while some will be happy in one career and others will continue to discover changing interests and learn new skills in new careers throughout their lives. This interesting thread certainly reveals all of these experiences.

My own experience was to change majors in my sophomore year from English to Sociology, which helped me understand societies and human nature and prepared me for a long career in journalism, followed by a second career that sort of harked back to the English major and included managing in creative services. Now retired, I am to this day thankful for a college experience that gave me time to learn and prepare for life.
John Bogle on his often bumpy road to low-cost indexing: "When a door closes, if you look long enough and hard enough, if you're strong enough, you'll find a window that opens."

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by corn18 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:49 pm

I am an enigma. I knew at age 7 I wanted to be a pilot. We couldn't afford lessons. Couldn't afford college. But my grades got me into the US Naval Academy. Had a blast studying EE and selected for pilot. Then got jets. Flew for 20 years with a test pilot focus and 3 combat tours. What a rush. Retired and went into industry. Ran a company. 10 years later, I am bored with it all. Now I think I want to teach. And save animals.

I try to help my 2 DD decide what they want to do, but I don't think I am much help. So I am reading this thread to see if it helps me help them.
Don't do something, just stand there!

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Geezer-Rich » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:14 pm

I'm the last person to be giving career advice. I flunked out of college after my first year. Knocked around in many low-paying jobs: hospital orderly, postage-machine repairman, department store loss-prevention, collection agencies (real fun). Picked up a hobby of drawing gag-cartoons/humorous ilustrations. At 34 started a freelance -cartooning career that lasted ten years. Then started in comuter programming for two years contracting here and there. At almost 46 I decided I wanted stability and security. Somehow, due to my computer background, I landed a position at the US Dept of State as a Foreign Service Specialist in Information Resource Management. Lasted there twenty years in various postings around the world until I hit mandatory retirement at 65. Took my pension and went back to freelance cartooning. I held off Soc Sec until 70 and now with a pension, SS, TSP withdrawals and a wife who works for the Feds and is about to retire with the same benfits, we are both very lucky and fortunate. Funy thing is, I never considered it a "career", just a job with a means to an end: job security and a pension.

I can't claim there was any planning in any of this. Just, as they say, "stepped in sh*t and came up smelling like a rose". I tell people that if I only did one thing right in my life, it was to get a job with the Federal Government. I even pushed my son into getting a federal job and now he's with TSA.

The only advice that I could give would be to get a college degree. Doesn't matter in what - just the degree is important these days. Most college grads now end up working in a field different from their degree. Get that degree and then try things until you find a fit that works for you. Oh, and don't go into too much debt to get it because you may end up doing something you love for not a lot of money.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by 22twain » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:16 pm

Executive summary: my general direction was clear at the end of high school, but my specific career path didn't reveal itself until the end of graduate school (Ph.D.).

I was a kid in the 1960s, the heyday of the "space race", which got me interested in astronomy and the other physical sciences. I followed the space flights, tinkered with a chemistry set in my basement, and read about physics. When I graduated from high school, I was undecided between chemistry and physics, but it was clear that I wanted to do something in the physical sciences.

Towards the end of my freshman year in college I settled on physics. I wasn't aiming to become the next Einstein or Heisenberg, and get my name attached to a famous equation or theory. I simply enjoyed studying the stuff and tinkering around in the labs at night, and hoped I would be good (and lucky) enough that someone would be willing to pay me to keep on doing it. And so I went on to graduate school, which paid me via teaching and research assistantships.

I made it all the way through grad school, but at the end, I had a career crisis. Although I had enjoyed life as a grad student, participating in research and getting my name on several papers as part of a large research group, I decided I really didn't have the temperament or desire for an academic research career: a series of postdocs followed by (if I was lucky) a tenure-track position at a research-oriented university, in a research field that didn't have a whole lot of long-term positions available, and having to chase research funding continuously, develop proposals for new experiments, etc. I'm just not an entrepreneurial sort of person. (For the same reason, I've never ever been tempted to own and manage real estate. :wink: )

Two alternative possibilities stood out. First, my day-to-day work had been mostly programming. I was entirely self-taught except for a couple of FORTRAN courses as an undergraduate, but I enjoyed it, and my colleagues seemed to think I was good at it. Some of the previous grad students in my research group (and other similar groups) had gone into programming careers. So I could very well have taken that route, and probably had a satisfying career.

Instead, I decided to try to recapture my undergraduate days at a small college, by becoming a professor at a similar school which focused mainly on teaching. I got lucky and ended up with first a two-year stint at one school as a sabbatical replacement, then a tenure-track position at another school from which I'm now retired.
My investing princiPLEs do not include absolutely preserving princiPAL.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by getthatmarshmallow » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:31 pm

I'm a college professor. I was headed for a STEM career, but I had to take an introductory humanities seminar as a freshman. The professor noticed that I had some talent, I took some more courses, changed my major from the sciences (high GPA but hated lab), and one of them tried to talk me into graduate school. Went into technology consulting where my ability to write circles around everyone was highly valued, missed the humanities, got the PhD.

I think I would have stuck with the sciences if I'd had some more mentorship (it turns out lots of people hated lab), and now it sort of boggles my mind that the old chemistry professor who signed my-change-of-major form didn't try to talk me into staying.

What I tell my students is that while they want quite reasonably to earn a degree that will get them a job, they need to think beyond the entry level job, and there's no reason a major in the humanities can't have a minor in computer science or business and launch themselves that way, or that a computer science major might want to think about a minor that helps with soft skills.

2015
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by 2015 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:45 pm

Mimmz wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:14 am
...
(4) Luck, while nearly universally plays a crucial role in most successful careers, often finds those who put themselves in a position to get lucky. Be ready for when opportunity presents itself, and be prepared to take appropriate risk to capitalize when you can.
Luck plays a crucial role in all of life. Luck can be coaxed when one works harder than most people would consider reasonable.

srt7
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by srt7 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:19 pm

Good topic to ponder and reflect.

I was mostly an average student but in 6th grade I had the opportunity to learn QBasic as an after-school program. Loved it! I also had this affinity towards machines so decided that I wanted to pursue engineering. After HS I was ready to take up CS major but was told that it was not a proper engineering major. So took EE. Didn't like it except for courses that included computer programming. So after receiving a BS in EE I promptly applied for a MS in CS. Enjoyed 2 years of grad school. Going on 15+ years now as a software developer.

OP - It is tricky and there is no one formula that works for all. But it all works out at the end. Hang in there!
I can't think of anything more luxurious than owning my time. - remomnyc

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Duckie » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:53 pm

cockersx3 wrote:So, I'd like to ask this group - what is your current job (or former job, if retired), and how did you decide to enter that profession?
I expected to be a teacher. Got my BA degree but never taught. Worked a few low-paying jobs in a small town. Got divorced and decided I needed to make some money to move away. Stumbled into a civil service job that paid 35% more than what I was making. Saved up enough to move and got the same type of job in a city paying a whole lot more. Retired when I was 50 and eligible for a pension. The job didn't even require a high school diploma.
Mimmz wrote:I’m actually somewhat surprised by the responses here, which in my opinion, seem somewhat un-Bogleheaded in their lack of decisive direction.
I'll bet a lot of us weren't Bogleheads in our twenties.
Last edited by Duckie on Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by s8r » Thu Nov 29, 2018 1:52 am

I have always loved physics. Ever since I was a little kid.

However, I would say my greatest talent was not math and science, but languages and writing (although I hated them!). I did well in school, but I kind of aimed for good grades rather than actually learning the stuff properly. "Do well so you can be lazy afterwards" was my motto. I took the absolute minimum amount of courses in high school, but all the courses in math, physics, and chemistry.

When it was time to apply for a university, I kind of knew it was going to be something in the STEM field. Pure physics was a no-no, since I had the impression it is not the path for a lucrative career.

My favorite fields within physics were mechanics and modern physics. I chose mechanical engineering. I chose a small-ish university because I thought the whole prestige stuff was seriously overrated (still do!).

Fell in love with structural mechanics at the university. Been working for a couple of years as a vibration analyst. My job is very secure since there is a serious shortage of simulation engineers in my country. Pay is OK.

My only disappointed is how different mechanical engineering is in the real life compared to university. At the university, everything was very scientific and exact (which I really liked), but in the real world we are often cutting corners and choosing the simplest alternatives. But I guess the same could be said with many other fields as well.

Also, I think they do not teach you actual engineering at the university, but rather the science of engineering. The actual engineering stuff you learn while working.

My advice would be: it is hard to go wrong with STEM :)

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by TheHouse7 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 1:57 am

I got a psychology bs to help people like my Mom(2009):

Door to door sales
Insurance sales
Krispy Kreme
Temp fish processor
Temp lumber mill
Lumber Mill
Oil by rail unloader
Field chemist in an oil refinery

Tell her to practice her faith, find the right man (character), and keep her good health.
"PSX will always go up 20%, why invest in anything else?!" -Father-in-law early retired.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by LuckBeALady » Thu Nov 29, 2018 2:50 am

Physician assistant. I did a “career study” project in middle school and came up with doctor, nurse, and social worker as careers appropriate for my interests and strengths (hah).

Medical school seemed like too many years of training to my limited imagination, plus I had no money and a deep fear of debt instilled in me by my father. Nursing didn’t seem like a perfect fit, and social worker wasn’t well-compensated.

Later, in college as a bio major, I stumbled onto the PA program description in the allied health catalog. I knew immediately that this was the career I wanted.

29 years later, I still love going to work.

I spent some serious time imagining what I wanted to do every day ( something with people, something with my hands, science) and considering my natural aptitudes. And to be honest, I wanted to be paid fairly well for my time. I have a fairly wide independent streak- I wanted to be able to pay my own way in life and not rely on a man.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by cockersx3 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 6:46 am

jmg229 wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:30 pm
When I worked with HS-aged kids, I would advise them to think about either the types of work they'd like to do and/or the type of impact they'd like to have, rather than a specific job, and then to keep lots of doors open while moving towards things that do that. Knowing what sort of impact she wants to leave on the world is a much more meaningful question and will likely guide her through college (in coursework, extracurriculars, networking, etc.) and allow her to be exposed to something that eventually really clicks.
Wow - really like this idea. It may be hard for her to know the kinds of work she'd like to do given her very limited real-world experiences with it so far (not even a senior yet!). But the impact question would be interesting for her to think about. Thanks for sharing. :happy

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by cockersx3 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:05 am

ge1 wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:58 am
Fairly straightforward for me. (Also just as background that I went to school in Europe where you specialize earlier.)

- Elected the business / law path in High School, which was the only one with a clear path to a career (at least in my mind). Other options were math (I was good in math, but couldn't imagine what jobs you would do with that), languages (2 foreign languages were enough, thank you), Latin (no comment) or art (no talent).
- After some back and forth decided to do a business and not a law degree for college
- Did an internship in a finance department of a Mega Corp
- Landed a finance job straight after school with another Mega Corp
- After 10 years in various Finance role, I decided to do my CPA and specialize in Accounting (have taken a lot of Accounting classes in college but did not do my CPA back then)
- Now the Corporate Controller for a public company
- Ultimate goal is to become the CFO of a private or public company
Thanks for sharing. I'm curious - was your goal of being a CFO something you knew about upon graduating college, or did it develop over time? That may be one of the issues in the cockersx3 household. I've been more comfortable with trying new things in my career (all within the ChemE realm) without a specific goal, and have lucked out in that the exposure to different aspects of my profession has made me more valuable to employers. Didn't really plan it that way, but here we are. OTOH, my daughter seems to be more of a long-term planner, however, so it's somewhat hard for me to relate and provide advice on that approach.

I actually had thought that the norm for people would be planning for a specific career goal and working towards it (ie the opposite of what I did :happy ) but that doesn't seem to be playing out in the responses I have read so far....

22twain
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by 22twain » Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:50 am

Most college majors, even science and math, should not be viewed as professional training, but rather as "profession enablers" that lay the foundation for further job-specific training, in grad school or internships or on-the-job training as a new hire.

All five physics majors in my college graduating class went on to grad school, but none of them ended up in physics research which was our initial goal. I ended up as a college professor that did only teaching. Another one became a technical writer. The third moved over to electrical engineering, and taught in-house training classes for a large tech company. The fourth also moved over to engineering, and did research in robotics at a Big State U. The fifth was actually a math major who happened to take enough physics courses to double-major, and went to grad school for operations research; I don't know what eventually happened to her.

Having multiple interests also helps, because they can suggest alternate paths in diverging directions. I was into programming even during my undergraduate days, and it turned out to be very "marketable" in grad school (made me attractive to the research group I ended up getting my Ph.D. with) and in my eventual teaching position (where I taught some programming courses and did informal technical support for the college's academic computing system). If I hadn't gotten a long-term teaching position, I probably would have become a full-time programmer.

I was also into languages. During my career crisis late in grad school, that I described in my previous post, I went to a physics conference to do preliminary interviews with colleges that were looking to hire professors. On the bulletin board I saw a notice from a company that was looking for technical translators. I wrote them to express interest, and they sent me something that looked like it was from an East German military magazine. I did well enough with it, and with a second task, and got paid for both, that I might have been able to develop that line of work. But then I got my first teaching-job offer, and I figured I'd better focus on that, so I stopped doing the translation work.

Nevertheless, the languages turned out to be useful in the end. I married one of the language professors at the college where I finally ended up for my "permanent" job. 8-)
My investing princiPLEs do not include absolutely preserving princiPAL.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by B4Xt3r » Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:52 am

I wanted to be a teacher, was very, very good at it and I got my PhD at 29. As I was writing my thesis and applying to tenure track jobs at teaching institutions I also learned how much $$ I needed to save per month, and estimated other cost of living expenses for the lifestyle that I wanted.

I took an engineering job.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by tictock81 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:07 am

No Project Manager has ever gone to school for Project Management. Most Project Managers come from Engineering or IT, but I was a Buyer for 12 years before becoming a Project Manager.

My Path:
- I was good at everything, but didn't know what to study. My "rich uncle" studied general business and was doing well so I went with that. Besides, he said it was very flexible and would give me lots of options (wise advice, it proved).
- In college I realized I could also get a Marketing degree and a Management degree by overlapping electives. With no extra classes, I could get 3 business degrees. So I did that.
- A senior-year marketing internship showed me Marketing wasn't for me, but the company (a book publisher) liked me and offered me a job in Purchasing.
- Experience in purchasing (especially International purchasing) led me to a new company and several roles as a Buyer. I was always involved in sourcing new products and new product development.
- After 12 years in purchasing, I became a Project Manager, developing new appliances with a team of engineers and industrial designers, etc. It's fun, interesting, and pays well.
- Somewhere along the way I got an MBA because my employer paid for it.

My advice: Remember that all businesses, non-profits, and governments run on the same financial principles. Therefore, getting a minor in business + a specialized degree (Engineering, Finance, IT, etc.) gives you an advantage because you know what leadership is trying to do. This is true regardless of how technology develops and skills are obsoleted.

Travel, sales, engineering, entrepreneurship, and a social network give immense perspective and flexibility.

22twain
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by 22twain » Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:12 am

B4Xt3r wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:52 am
I wanted to be a teacher, was very, very good at it and I got my PhD at 29. As I was writing my thesis and applying to tenure track jobs at teaching institutions I also learned how much $$ I needed to save per month, and estimated other cost of living expenses for the lifestyle that I wanted.

I took an engineering job.
Heh, I also finished my Ph.D. and started looking for college-teaching jobs at 29.

Fortunately it turned out that I like the small-town lifestyle. It probably helped that I grew up in a small city, not a major metro area, and I went to college in a town even smaller than the one where I am now. Ending up with a wife with a similar salary also helped. We're doing OK with our retirement, no complaints.

Before I got the job offer here, I also interviewed at a small college in a ritzy suburb of Chicago. I sometimes wonder how my life would have turned out if they had offered me a job instead...
Last edited by 22twain on Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by carguyny » Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:22 am

I was very good at maths and physics in HS, so thought I wanted to do computer science, which was a newish field still. Very very early internet days. I enrolled in the program and hated my professors and didn't want to spend my life working with people like them. I switched to Finance because it was super easy for me. My family was very poor so no idea what finance even was at home.

Got OK grades but partied more than anything. Finished and took my first job, apparently it didn't come super easy to everyone got promoted quickly, moved to another company and got promoted quickly again. These days I run my own fund and have since my mid 30s.

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