How did YOU choose your career?

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mak1277
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by mak1277 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:32 am

I think even the smartest high school kids are kind of idiots at life still at that point. No reason to rush a serious choice like that.

I was bright but lazy in high school...good grades without having to work hard.
Went to college planning to major in Bio, get a PhD and become a professor.
Learned that everyone at my college was bright and a lot of them also knew how to/wanted to study. Got lousy grades in intro bio/chem classes.
Switched to the Business School because I heard it was easy. Got an A without working hard in my first Accounting class. Switched major to accounting.
Worked at Big 4 for 14 years before switching to industry. On track for early financial independence.

Path of least resistance all the way.

augryphon
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by augryphon » Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:06 am

I grew up in a very small town, and my only exposure to better jobs were teachers, the town pharmacist, dentist, doctor, local banker, and the engineers at the paper mill and power plant. My circle of influence didn't include any other professions, so from my point of view, this was the complete list of options. I was very good at math and science, so I choose engineering. Other than getting beat to death in the first two years of college, it was a perfect choice and it has worked out very well. I have been employed, and well paid every day for 33 years with challenging, important work that makes a difference in peoples lives.

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Tamarind
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Tamarind » Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:54 am

I think many people have winding careers and not much of a plan especially at the beginning. There's nothing wrong with that at all. I was a voracious learner as a kid but had no "calling". Most of the time I wanted to be an author, but veterinarian was a close second.

At the end of high school my favorite subject was physics and I found law fascinating. I entered college as a prospective physics major with the plan of going to law school after to focus on IP law. I graduated with a major in Anthropology and decided to go on to the PhD and become a professor.

I graduated in 2008, so I did not go to grad school after all. I became an office manager to make ends meet. My employer went out of business slowly so I got to do all of the non-engineering functions before the end. I got interested in the software used to run businesses.

I worked at a startup that needed a jack-of-all-trades in the accounting department. I made collections calls, but also started working with our IT and business systems. I began to focus more on the software.

Today I'm a business systems analyst. I have a good reputation in my industry and make a good living. Not only is it a job I didn't even know existed when I was in high school, it's not particularly related to my degree and doesn't look much like my early jobs either. I still read legal opinions and astrophysics journals regularly and find them interesting. Who knows what I'll be doing in another 10 years!

I would advise OP's child or anyone in high school not to worry too much about pressure from peers to have a life plan. It's just another kind of status game like teenagers are always playing. Pursue what interests you whole-heartedly, go to college if you can, be willing to take unexpected turns as needed, stay independent and flexible. You'll be fine.

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SevenBridgesRoad
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by SevenBridgesRoad » Thu Nov 29, 2018 10:50 am

Tamarind wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:54 am
I think many people have winding careers and not much of a plan especially at the beginning. There's nothing wrong with that at all. I was a voracious learner as a kid but had no "calling". Most of the time I wanted to be an author, but veterinarian was a close second.

Today I'm a business systems analyst...Not only is it a job I didn't even know existed when I was in high school, it's not particularly related to my degree and doesn't look much like my early jobs either. Who knows what I'll be doing in another 10 years!

I would advise OP's child or anyone in high school not to worry too much about pressure from peers to have a life plan...Pursue what interests you whole-heartedly, go to college if you can, be willing to take unexpected turns as needed, stay independent and flexible. You'll be fine.
+1000. Tamarind offers what may be the most reality-based advice in this thread so far. Reflects what I’ve seen in many friends, family and myself. There’s probably a venn diagram: the intersection of something you find interesting, something you can become really good at and something for which you can get decent (or better) financial compensation. The ‘somethings’ can change throughout life. Stay curious, be willing to work hard and become the best whatever at each stage, and be open to change.
There are stars in the Southern sky | And if ever you decide you should go | There is a taste of time sweetened honey | Down the Seven Bridges Road

GAAP
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by GAAP » Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:18 am

Random stumbling.

I entered college thinking Mechanical Engineering, switched to Business, side trip through a 2-year Business Data Processing degree, back to Business with an MIS concentration and Communication Studies and Computer Science minors. Started out in Computer operations, hoping to be a programmer. Got a job as System Manager/Programmer/Course Developer for Northern Telecom and took a lot of training opportunities to learn about telecom which became my career -- primarily in cellular as the industry grew and matured. Got a masters in Telecom Management along the way.

I would say use the first couple of years of college to learn what you like and are interested in doing. Find a place that you like to do what you like. Expect to change -- in today's world, much more than in the past. Learn to keep learning for the rest of your life.
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” ― Bruce Lee

dknightd
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by dknightd » Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:29 am

cockersx3 wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:15 pm

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....
Early high school is way too early to worry about it. Think about it, sure. Ignore the pressure. I'll bet most of her peers end up doing something different than what they planned.

I think for many people their career chose them. Perhaps by chance.

I guess it can not hurt to have a plan (or dream), but expect for it to change.

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Stinky
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Stinky » Thu Nov 29, 2018 12:39 pm

Actuary was my profession.

I was always top of the high school class in math, but had no desire to be a math teacher. And didn't have the intelligence to be a PhD math person. Two actuaries came to my high school during my senior year, and introduced me to a field that used math in an insurance company context. I went to a great college with an actuarial program, took a couple of internships during college, got my first job out of college, and never looked back. 40+ years in the field, now retired.

Actuarial science is consistently near the top of "best" jobs - great pay, low unemployment, relatively low stress, etc. These days, the toughest challenge is for an entry-level student to get the first job.
It's a GREAT day to be alive - Travis Tritt

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Thu Nov 29, 2018 2:26 pm

Well, there wasn't a lot of choosing. More like meandering.

I was a young graduate student in the sciences. In the early 80s, there was a shortage of engineers, so Megacorp sent some recruiters up to the school to talk to us. I really had no interest but as a favor to the professor (and some curiosity) I filled out the application and went to the interview. To my surprise, they sent an offer, which was $400/week at the time. That was a lot of money. So I decided to do that for a while. They also paid for me to finish my MS at night. When I got done with that, I decided I was tired of school.

After several years, I started learning some programming to support what I was doing. Oddly, it turned out that this was what I was meant to do. I took a few classes at local schools. One of the instructors encouraged me to enter the MS CS program there. I finished up with that in the late 90s and became a software engineer. I did that in various capacities for another 20 years until retirement.
This week's fortune cookie: "Your financial life will be secure and beneficial." So I got that going for me, which is nice.

hicabob
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by hicabob » Thu Nov 29, 2018 2:30 pm

I was a not so enthusiastic chemistry major then took an intro to computer science course. I loved it, was very good at it, and the timing was excellent.

a5ehren
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by a5ehren » Thu Nov 29, 2018 2:43 pm

I liked computers, waffled between EE and Aerospace my freshman year of college.

Stayed in EE (got a Master's even) and so far have ended up mostly programming instead of hardware because I can tolerate it and make a good living at it. Long-term I want to get into management, but we'll see.

#1 advice is for them to find something they can tolerate that pays well.

Moneta
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Moneta » Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:16 pm

In early high school, I was very religious. I was also convinced that the current American global empire was about to crash irrevocably due to moral decay. So my career plan was to become the Mother Superior of a convent that would singlehandedly preserve cultural treasures like classical music, Latin manuscripts, and so on. We would raise our own sheep and chickens, and farm our own fields, and bake 50 loaves of bread! We would sing, embroider, and preserve Western civilization in the face of cultural darkness and decline!

That was seriously my entire plan. :oops:

So I went off to college and majored in Classics, History, and Medieval Studies. I also learned there were a WHOLE lot more types of people and types of livelihood than I'd seen in my relatively sheltered upbringing. I held various campus jobs, where I started learning about what type of things I like to do, and what types of things I am good at (these can be different).

People during college kept telling me I should become a college professor, but I really didn't think that was the right path for me. I did apply to some graduate schools, but without a clear plan other than "become professor of Bronze Age Indo-Grecian cultural interplay," which might actually be a real job somewhere, but I'm sure the competition for that one slot is fierce. :) Other than that, I didn't have an actual plan.

I decided not to go to grad school because of a death in the family, and also because deep down inside, I was worried about the insane stuff that academia imposes on PhD candidates.

After college I taught English in China, then temped in a few places before moving to Seattle and getting an MA in China Studies. By that point I'd given up on the whole "preserve Western culture in the face of darkness" career plan. My new career plan was "something to do with the Chinese language or culture, maybe?"

It turned out that the MA program I was attending was more geared towards State Department type people. Since I had no desire to go live in D.C., that felt like a dead end. The degree did allow me to move to Seattle, though.

I graduated into the teeth of the dot com bubble burst, and found myself competing with swarms of people who actually had experience doing things. There was no way I'd be able to "do something with Chinese language or culture" -- zillions of other people are already fluent in Chinese and English. Plus, I was not at all fluent, and no one is going to hire a random 22-year-old just to "do something with Chinese culture." Do what? Provide what service? I had no idea. I was unemployed for 10 months and, again, had no real plan.

Finally, a friend recommended me for a position writing marketing copy for an internet retailer. I started there at $26K / year (in Seattle!) and counted my blessings, because finally I was earning money and could stop mooching off my boyfriend!

I stayed at the same company for 16 years, moving from one position to the next as the needs of the company changed. It turned out that my aptitudes suited me for more analytical / technical roles, and over time I took on that sort of project more and more. I ended up as the company's one technical project manager before pivoting into the data warehousing field and changing employers. Today I work as a technical program manager for a business intelligence team. I'm 43 and finally earning (just over) six figures for the very first time! :moneybag

Interestingly, during my job search I went to a nonprofit research institute that does aptitude testing, and spent 2 days getting tested. Their summary of what areas I'm suited for were eerily accurate, and I learned some things about my weaknesses as well. (It turns out I'm in the 30th percentile for being able to see subtle color differences. Who knew?) I recommend them: Johnson O'Connell Institute.

I would recommend aptitude testing for high school students -- it might have helped me find other subjects that would also have appealed to me just as much as Latin and Greek, and that might have been a touch more lucrative.

I think a lot of the plans being put forth by kids in early high school are just to reassure themselves that they'll be fine. And they will be fine! And sure, a small percentage of people do actually choose one life path and then execute on that plan. I'd guess that 90%+ of people end up stumbling around and trying this, that, and the other, and seeing what the market wants, before they find a path that meets all their major needs, if they ever do find such a job.

My major needs in a job:

* Office based (I did not want to work building freeways in the freezing rain, or mucking out zoo stalls, or living on an oil rig)
* Good paid time off and sick benefits (I did not want to have to go to work sick in order to pay my mortgage)
* Pays enough that I can afford to live in Seattle, have kids, buy a house, and so on, as long as I'm frugal
* Reasonable work/life balance. I work just 40 hours almost every week.
* No direct customer / retail interactions (Working some temp jobs convinced me I cannot stay civil in the face of too much customer nonsense)
* Technical / skilled role, and therefore at least some prestige in the organization
* Freedom and autonomy in my role to get the job done as I see fit. Enough creativity that my soul won't die.
* No on call hours (I don't want to be called at 3 AM because a server is down)
* No travel, or minimal travel (10% or less). (I didn't want to become someone who flies around the world doing trainings every other day)
* Not a huge amount of face-to-face "extrovert" time at work. I can turn it on if I need to, but it's very draining to do it all day every day.

I've developed a skill set that allows me to qualify for and hold a job that meets my above needs, and I am happy and content.

Now, if Western civilization ever falls, the world will be short one super-nun, but I suppose we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

SGM
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by SGM » Thu Nov 29, 2018 6:20 pm

I did a bunch of jobs while in school including driving a cab, painting lines on highways, loading trucks, driving trucks, warehouse work, shoveling asphalt, teaching assistant, you name it.

One day after graduation a buddy called me to say he won over $10k at the track and would I want to stay in the beach house he was renting in Daytona. I drove down in my $400 car and went into a seafood restaurant as my buddy was working somewhere else. I was the only customer and I hit it off with the waitress and she told me about the special education school her mother taught at. They were starting a new program for autistic children and had a large amount of federal grant money. I made an appointment to see the school principal and he offered me a job the same day and I became a teacher and went to work within a week or two assessing the children in their homes. It was great fun and some of the kids did really well in the program.

I had in the back of my mind to become a chemist or go to medical school, but I hadn't thought about it until just prior to graduation. After several years the school replaced a wonderful principal who had started there mid-semester. We became lifelong friends and shared an interest in Florida folk music. The replacement principle had a PhD from the University of Florida and about half the staff left after her first year. I began thinking of leaving. After a while I learned of an industrial chemistry M.S. program. I started taking courses at night and later received a teaching and research assistantship. The professors were inspirational. My lead professor used to challenge me on almost a daily basis with the question, "What have you done for science today?" My research thesis was included recently in their internet "Star" program. The university now had PhD dissertations and they chose to include three of our class's Master theses in the Star program to be available online for researchers. It doesn't mean much but it is cool to download a letter congratulating me on my thesis being chosen for dissemination to anyone who wants to see it. I only found out about it when I did a search of my professor's work and bio after his recent death. He is missed by the university. Once it started a football program he was at every program tailgating and making Cajun dishes that he gave away to the students.

After graduation I interviewed at multiple locations. Engineers and chemists filled all the airports. There were so many offers. When I visited a big integrated oil company, every chemist had my professor's text book "Principles of Industrial Chemistry," prominently located on his or her desk. They made me a higher offer than the other companies and I took it. After a year I left the lab and went to work in the instrument engineering department. I also got some good plant start up experience in our LA plants, in which my group made the whole instrument engineering department look good. My best friend, an EE, was quite jealous of the kudos. But I told the plant manager when to charge the reactors, because I knew my equipment was giving him all the right answers and I understood the process better than the manager did. He listened to me and the process went online without a hitch.


Later I went to another big oil company and became their company wide specialist and consultant in this type of equipment. I was the only chemist among a ton of PhD engineers in the monitoring and computer control system. I made some instruments work that the previous engineer had spent a million wasted dollars on the installation. (He was sent to the glass blowing department of the research center). I later went around the world giving courses and working on problems and new projects. I even spent 18 days on board a very large scale oil tanker to help with negotiations with PEMEX. We weren't going to let them sell us water at oil prices. They hired an extra captain who was Spanish to translate for me and do further negotiations. It had to be a captain or nobody on the ship would listen to him.


I had saved and invested and realized I could do anything I want now. I then turned to medicine and enjoyed that immensely. I still hear from my patients even now that I am retired for 4 years.


I tried an aptitude test as a college freshman and it indicated I might do well as a social worker or a reporter. Neither career interested me.


I learned about autism by taking a two week assignment baby sitting an autistic child. A psychology professor asked me to take the job. I read about autism and saw the guilt that mother had. She thought autism was the result of cold mothering. That theory has long been proven untrue. I jumped at the autistic teaching job in Florida.

I always liked chemistry. If I had done engineering it would have been chemical engineering.

As far as medicine, I had with spinal meningitis as an infant. My Aunt made mom take me to the hospital immediately. As college senior I was coming back from a night out when the car driver went through a confusing intersection and we were hit on the passenger side. I ended up with broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a chest tube and spent multiple days in the hospital. This may have had something to do with me wanting to go to medical school, you think?

I did note that by having an engineering degree my father was able to leave the hot steel mills and work in aviation manufacturing. My uncles who chose not to go to school continued to do dangerous work in the mills. At least one uncle was injured by molten steel, but fortunately survived.

When my younger brother received a master's degree it gave me confidence that I could handle advanced graduate degrees if I chose to do so. I did get an MPH in addition to the M.D. while in medical school, but didn't specifically use the public health degree for anything. I had a better understanding of epidemiology and medical testing though.

gluskap
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by gluskap » Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:10 pm

I kind of happened on my career by accident too. In HS I was good at math and science and so when I went to college I figured I would be premed like half of the entering Asian freshman going to UCLA lol. Took the MCATs and everything. Then summer before Senior year I decided to backpack through Europe as a kind of grand tour. Well it made me realize there's so much more to life than studying and I didn't want to go back and spend so many years in med school and residency. But now that I was no longer pre-med I didn't really know what I wanted to do with a Biochemistry degree. So after I graduated I applied with a science/tech recruiter for a temporary position that turned into a permanent one in the cosmetics chemistry field. Turns out I really liked it because it allowed me to use my technical skills yet still be creative. Now I'm an R&D director for a lab.

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celia
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by celia » Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:28 am

OP, Next week (Dec. 3-7), the PBS News Hour will be talking about the future of work. It probably won't be for the whole hour, but some of it may interest you/your daughter.

To find online career aptitude tests, just google "career aptitude tests". I don't know if any of them are any good and they might be a "front" for a trade school or something. But most of them seem free and you can report back what you think.

RVosen
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by RVosen » Fri Nov 30, 2018 4:49 pm

This has been such an interesting read. I have wondered a bit going through these forms how people end up at some of their jobs. Mines not very typical so I'm not sure if it will help much but here it goes.

I was a poor student in high school and I finished somewhere in the bottom 25% of my class. I hated English and science. that wasn't astronomy. But I did alright in math, liked history and took a lot of shop classes. I also wasn't involved in sports or any thing else in school but did have a strong work ethic spending around 30 hours a week working Junior and Senior year. I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career and didn't do nearly as much research as I should. I just remember from what I heard college being very expensive and you might not even be able to get a job in your major. I also remember sitting at my high school graduation ceremony and being embarrassed when one of the speakers said over 90% of the class had plans to attend college or join the military. As I wasn't one of them.

I had interest in getting into the skilled trades with all the shop classes I took and I was good working with my hands. But when I graduated high school and was trying to get into the trades it was about the same time the great recession hit and there weren't many jobs available. So I took a year off after high school as I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I spent it working full time between the machine shop and dairy farm I worked at in high school but knew neither was anything I wanted to continue working in.

After that year I enrolled in the local technical college with the recession going on and how many people were losing jobs I decided to study something safe and decided to major in criminal justice. I continued to work 30+ hours a week while attending class full time and ended up really liking the classes and did much better with my school work than I did in high school. I graduated with my associates degree. I felt like I wanted to be a police officer and did a police academy towards the end of my 2nd year. But felt I needed some more work experience before I could take that kind of job. I applied to some county jails and ended up getting hired by the state department of corrections as a corrections officer. Luckily I got placed at an institution only 30 minutes from home.

I completed to academy and was assigned to 2nd shift and didn't really know what to think of it when I started, it was so different than what I was used to. I ended up getting into a routine and there was some days I liked it and others I hated it. After about 1.5 to 2 years I started to apply for other law enforcement jobs here and there, most of them I didn't get very far as the field was so competitive, I came close a couple times but never did get that job offer I was looking for. I didn't do enough to set myself apart from other candidates, I should of got a bachelors degree or a lot of volunteering would of got me further. As time went by I was one of the more go to officers on my shift. People liked coming to me when the had issues or questions and I took a lead in training new staff. But I kept getting a more negative outlook on the job, we were treated very poorly there was a ton of forced 16 hour shifts and my normal work hours were still pretty terrible 3pm-11pm on a 7 day 7 week rotation. I decided I needed to do something other than stay in an entry level position forever. I tried to start to promote from where I was at but surprisingly I didn't do well enough I my couple interviews to move up to the next rank. I was pretty upset and some coworkers also voiced displeasure to upper management that they were not promoting me. But I knew this line of work was no longer for me at that point I was to burnt out to ever really consider sticking it out and wanted to make a change.

I looked at trying to get a bachelors degree in something a few times but didn't know in what or what to really expect in online classes. So I went back to my high school plan on getting into the skilled trades and took an entry level position as a laborer for a large mechanical contractor in my area. It was a pay cut but at least it was a day shift Monday through Friday job. I chose to work with the plumbing department because I knew it was one of the higher paying trades and had pretty good job security. I worked my tail off to get my apprenticeship and really like the work. I started in the commercial department mainly working on new apartments and hotels, worked a little bit on the service/remodel side and have now been working on residential doing new single family homes for the past year. I'm about to start year 4 of 5 of my apprenticeship, I like my job a lot better and I'm earning about 1.5X what I was at the last job.

Hopefully this is the last change I do like this job a lot better although you do have to deal with the weather and get dirty but it fits me a lot better and once the apprenticeship is done I will make about 2X what my last job paid giving my much more financial security.

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cockersx3
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by cockersx3 » Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:04 pm

sawhorse wrote:
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/
For what it's worth, I'm noticing that work-study and summer internships are also becoming more prevalent in the engineering candidates that I interview. It wasn't as common back when I was in school, but seems far more common now. Not quite the same as shadowing (pay is certainly better :D ), but still seems like a way for people to bail out of something that may not be for them. (A bit on the late side for folks in college, but better than nothing I guess).

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by fsrph » Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:11 pm

When I was in high school I took an aptitude test and the recommendation was I should be a farmer in Yuma, Arizona. Did I follow that? No. I was accepted into two health care professional schools and I chose pharmacy. Decades later this profession allowed me to be easily FI. After all these years I'm not even sure if pharmacy was the right choice. I think Yuma would have worked out well as I like hot weather.

Francis
"Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get." | Dale Carnegie

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cockersx3
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by cockersx3 » Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:28 pm

3504PIR wrote:
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.
Thanks for sharing. I like how your daughter took it upon herself to ask people about their profession and how they entered it - very mature and responsible! My daughter has started doing this more - she has tended to be more on the introverted side, but has blossomed socially this year and is better able to do this without being embarrassed. I do think that talking to real people (as well as people in a forum like BH :D )and getting clear, direct info on what things are like and what skill sets are important - as well as how they got there - is important.

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cockersx3
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by cockersx3 » Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:32 pm

Fallible wrote:
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.
Thanks. I understand what you're saying, and if college cost wasn't a factor I would totally agree. But given the cost of college nowadays, it just rseems so inefficient. (That said, having a child fail to launch is also not good financially...). Just really wish there were less expensive ways to expose kids to those options.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Determined » Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:21 pm

I always wanted to teach. I made the neighborhood kids play school. I am also musical. I tried some other options in college but went back and got my Music Ed degree. I have been teaching for 25 years. I can't imagine doing anything else.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:23 pm

cockersx3 wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:32 pm
Fallible wrote:
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.
Thanks. I understand what you're saying, and if college cost wasn't a factor I would totally agree. But given the cost of college nowadays, it just rseems so inefficient. (That said, having a child fail to launch is also not good financially...). Just really wish there were less expensive ways to expose kids to those options.
Ironically or not it is the most expensive elite colleges where the “finding yourself” path tends to work out just fine.

A philosophy major from Northwestern has options. From U of Illinois? Harder to say.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by SoAnyway » Fri Nov 30, 2018 10:26 pm

OP, you're a great Dad. :sharebeer That said, I'm not sure you're asking the right question. Everyone is unique - and that includes you and your daughter. How I chose might not have any relevance to your daughter's situation. You know her best, and you also know best how she differs from you, from others posting here, and from her peers.

In an effort to help, the trite and hackneyed advice on career development is to "follow your passion". That's not really concrete and actionable. Some kids are passionate about interacting with their peers on Snapchat. That's not a job or career goal as best I know, although perhaps it might be useful in marketing fields later on; who knows. SoAnyway, in my day lots of kids were passionate about watching sports on TV or playing chess or taking care of Fido/watching out for their kid brother or solving differential equations. The better spin I've heard on career development for young people is more structured - which might suit their much more "structured" upbringing compared to my own - and btw, it is EXACTLY what the tests recommended by others are designed to do:

1. Figure out what you LOVE to do and are good at;
2. Figure out WHY you love doing it;
3. Figure how to get paid to do something that feeds that "why".

So for example, no one in my day was going to get paid to sit on the couch watching sports on tv or playing chess or feeding Fido/making sure kid brother didn't get himself killed or solving differential equations with answers that have already been figured out and are at the back of the textbook. But those who loved it could figure out that the "why" was that they loved thinking about the game strategy (translation to business management or strategic planning roles) or that they loved the competition and winning (translation to sales or entrepreneurship) or that they loved serving animals or other people (translation to veterinary, nursing or any number of other service professions) or that they loved solving problems (translation to engineering of all sorts). If you read the prior posts closely, you'll see that the posters happiest in their careers didn't target a "job" but rather, found their way (sometime quite circuitously, as was my own case) to a career path that has them doing exactly what they loved doing as a kid (not in the "what" sense but the "why" sense). What does your daughter LOVE doing that she's good at, and more importantly, WHY?

Another way to look at it given your own background: Think of a Venn diagram of 3 intersecting circles. The circles are: 1. What is your daughter good at? 2. What does she enjoy doing? 3. (Since you've been out in the world) What can she get paid to do? Where all 3 intersect is the "sweet spot". If you need a visual, here's a link to some random blogger's post that I didn't read but the Venn diagram in the middle says it all. Good luck to you all!

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by ge1 » Sat Dec 01, 2018 11:47 am

cockersx3 wrote:
Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:05 am

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....
That’s a good question. I think the answer is no but I remember a college class where the professor mentioned that a Controller is the conscience of a Company - that resonated with me. I’m not a sales guy but a type A personality, so I frankly - as arrogant as that may sound - always assumed I would have a good career. How far a career leads though is up to many factors, not the least of which luck, so planning to be a CFO would sound a bit silly to me.

I’m a big believer in taking on new challenges, mastering them and then moving on to the next challenge. I think that attitude almost guarantees success, whatever that looks like.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by cockersx3 » Mon Dec 03, 2018 7:31 pm

rgs92 wrote:
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.)
Yup. As an engineer myself, this was pretty much the process for me as well. I did what everyone else did, attended all the on-campus job fairs, and eventually got hired right out of college. But I think that, while it's typical for engineers (or at least it used to be?), for other majors this doesn't seem to be the norm - there seems to be a lot of luck / timing in it as well. INteresting to hear the stories on this thread about the various, nonlinear paths folks have followed.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by cockersx3 » Mon Dec 03, 2018 7:38 pm

Ilikesparklers wrote:
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!
Thanks for sharing! Interestingly, I have a cousin that went the environmental studies route. She actually went to a very expensive university for animal / environmental research, then spent about a decade in a series of unpaid or low-paid positions abroad. She eventually went back to community college and became a vet tech, and still lives with her parents. I cringe at the amount of money that seems to have been wasted here....
(That's actually one of several of college-related stories in my extended family that we hope not to repeat with our kids - hence this thread :happy )

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by cockersx3 » Mon Dec 03, 2018 7:40 pm

corn18 wrote:
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.
Just....wow. What a story. This is awesome 8-)

Thank you for your service!

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by MindBogler » Mon Dec 03, 2018 7:41 pm

I never considered what I really wanted to do. I work in high tech and it just sort of happened. I've been working in IT in some capacity since before I could drive. As I grew older I matured into the enterprise IT space. It was something I was good at and it paid the bills. Over time it has exceeded my expectations in compensation. I have a degree in an unrelated field.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Tycoon » Mon Dec 03, 2018 7:50 pm

I flipped through the 3" thick College Placement Annual and found a company I wanted to work for. I applied and the rest is history.
Appeal to Pity:When pity is envoked to support a statement | Appeal to Popular Sentiment:Appealing to unrelated prejudices and attitudes | Hasty Generalization:Too little evidence to support the conclusion

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by cockersx3 » Mon Dec 03, 2018 7:52 pm

celia wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:28 am
OP, Next week (Dec. 3-7), the PBS News Hour will be talking about the future of work. It probably won't be for the whole hour, but some of it may interest you/your daughter.

To find online career aptitude tests, just google "career aptitude tests". I don't know if any of them are any good and they might be a "front" for a trade school or something. But most of them seem free and you can report back what you think.
Thanks for the heads up - I will check it out! :sharebeer

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by cockersx3 » Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:10 pm

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to pause and say a huge THANK YOU to all who have responded so far. I have been crazy busy these last few days, and haven't had much time to read many of the posts all in one sitting. I've been pleasantly surprised at the volume of responses so far though...!

It may not seem like much, but getting others' perspective on how they found their way into their careers has been hugely helpful to my daughter and I so far. The data set I had before this was the engineers I work with (all of which pretty much followed the same pattern I did lol) and my wife's stories from her school (who have had experiences similar to hers as well.).

Overall, it seems like a common theme here is the role that chance seemed to play in people's journeys. I've been telling her that, while you may not know what you want to be yet, keeping your grades up is really important in order to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that chance provides. As one poster stated, you make your own luck. But seeing how many posters' prior hard work put them in a position to take advantage of those opportunities helped to drive that point home with my daughter.

It was also helpful to see how few of the posters made a career out of the things they may have thought in high school. I told my daughter that this wasn't common based on our own limited experience - ie, plans made that early in life often don't play out as expected. But again, seeing that in the posts helped underscore this message for my daughter.

Overall, it seems like we're on the right track - don't worry about making hard plans, but instead focus on trying different things and keeping the grades up and the options open. Life can change, and these efforts will allow you to take advantage when those changes happen. If I had to guess right now, I can see her potentially pursuing a trade (or potentially the military) when she leaves school, with the option of going back to college later once she has more life experience. But again, there's still plenty of time - it's not a race :D

Thanks again everyone!

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by celia » Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:08 am

cockersx3 wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:10 pm
It may not seem like much, but getting others' perspective on how they found their way into their careers has been hugely helpful to my daughter and I so far. The data set I had before this was the engineers I work with (all of which pretty much followed the same pattern I did lol) and my wife's stories from her school (who have had experiences similar to hers as well.).
Keep in mind that we are not representative of the cross-section of the country. We lean towards better educated, self-motivated, and many professional careers. But there are other necessary and worthwhile careers that may not pay as much. (I hesitate to name any, since once I do, someone will pipe up and say they know someone who does that for a living and makes twice what they make.)

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by loslebenrl483 » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:02 am

Mimmz wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:14 am
I’m actually somewhat surprised by the responses here, which in my opinion, seem somewhat un-Bogleheaded in their lack of decisive direction. Bogleheads typically take a path that minimizes risk for an expected return, and while the market may lead you and your career in a variety of directions, a regimented approach seems much more Boglehead to me. I’m too young, both relative to some of the other posters and in absolute terms, to (1) not caveat that nobody knows nothing in terms of how and where your career will lead you and (2) not require a post-mortem of this post sometime 10-30 years from now, but in terms of what I feel I did that was actionable and can be replicated:

(1) Start working jobs/internships early and often. Experience is everything, in anything you do, and nothing will beat getting out there and trying it. Jobs are different than careers, and even jobs seemingly unrelated to your ultimate career can teach you a lot about what you’re good at, and what you like. My jobs in high school and college taught me more than my internships in my field did about how to pursue my career, but my internships opened more doors for my career than my jobs. Changing jobs is easy; changing careers is often much more difficult.

(2) Be honest in assessing what you’re good at, and what you like. Admit that if they aren’t one and the same, you’re setting yourself up for a harder path. Be realistic in what economic returns are available for those pursuits, and be comfortable with the economic reality you set yourself up for. Don’t become a [history] major, and then wonder why your “idiot” classmate who became an investment banker is in a better financial position five years post-graduation. Do become a history major if its your passion, remembering dates and names is easy, living below your means comes naturally, and the idea of passing on that passion to others in the future makes you giddy.

(3) Be deliberate in what you choose to pursue, and know why you make that choice, even if it doesn’t seem direct. I took a number of courses in college that had nothing to do with my major, but instead of being wasted, they helped make me a more well rounded person, and helped me challenge assumed perceptions I had developed from the bulk of my coursework. That improved social awareness has helped my career more than most of the courses I took for my majors.

(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.
Good post.

I have two graduate degrees. My advice to people who ask me about college is to find out what you want to do, and plan out what college degrees you need in order to obtain that career. Research, talk to people in that position, and become highky confident that your investment will pay off. The worst thing to do is the reverse - get a random degree and then figure out what career to get.

A college degree should be a carefully weighted investment in the future. Not an exercise in passion. My thoughts.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Ron » Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:16 am

celia wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:08 am
<snip...>Keep in mind that we are not representative of the cross-section of the country. We lean towards better educated, self-motivated, and many professional careers.
Amen to that comment...

- Ron

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by PJmillennial » Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:06 pm

I have always worked from the time I was 8 or so. Picked raspberries for about $3.50 an hour, milked cows on the early shift for $10.00, Worked for my uncle in a snack food plant loading pallets with 50# sacks all day for $15.00 an hour, ran a jackhammer 50 hours a week for a summer for $18 an hour.

All of those experiences taught me I didn't want to do any of those long term. I interned in 2 machine shops in high school and loved it. I went for a manufacturing engineering technology degree and have been working in a family machine shop since then. It's a cool time to be in this industry and I wouldn't change it for anything. I get to use both my brain and my hands and know I am helping keep local and national industries moving along.

All that to say have your daughter get some life experience. Is it too late to get an internship for a semester? I would personally take time off after school and figure it out than start taking gen-eds.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by LiterallyIronic » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:56 pm

I'm going to have to read through this whole thread and see if it helps me figure out how to figure out what I should be doing. I'm 35 and I've hated every job I've ever had. Most of the time I can't stomach them for more than a year and quit. I went back to school for a second degree just so I could delay working again.

I just quit a job that I hated going to every day. Got a job offer from my first choice company for an 18% raise and twice as many vacation days. I've been employed here for a week and I wish I was dead.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Cruise » Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:20 pm

LiterallyIronic wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:56 pm
I'm going to have to read through this whole thread and see if it helps me figure out how to figure out what I should be doing. I'm 35 and I've hated every job I've ever had. Most of the time I can't stomach them for more than a year and quit. I went back to school for a second degree just so I could delay working again.

I just quit a job that I hated going to every day. Got a job offer from my first choice company for an 18% raise and twice as many vacation days. I've been employed here for a week and I wish I was dead.
When I hear stories like your's, I hope that the storyteller avails him/herself to a career consultant. Assessing your occupational interests and your talents and limitations can only aid in the selection of an appropriate and enjoyable career.

Good luck to you.
Last edited by Cruise on Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by bbqguru » Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:33 pm

Like many, where I am today is 180 degrees from where I wanted to be when I was younger. While in college I was getting a degree and flight training to become an airline pilot. I got tired of the constant one-upmanship stories and the federal government and I had a disagreement on whether I could see all the colors required.

Changed my major to finance with the intention of corporate finance and never made it. I'm currently working as the fourth-generation in my family's business. I swore I'd never end up working with my family, but alas, here I am. My father called me one evening towards the end of my college career and told me that long-term, I might want to consider coming back to the business. My grandmother was getting older and he was wanting to do less day to day operations.

My father ended up being right, but like most children, I'll never admit it.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by palaheel » Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:02 pm

I come from a family of Math teachers. In a small rural high school, I had one aunt for four years of high school math. My other aunt jumped ship from teaching math and went into computer programming. She lent me a Fortran book the summer before my freshman year.
I quickly realized that with a little extra effort, I could write one program that would do many tedious algebra problems that my other aunt had been giving me for four years.

That was very appealing. I later discovered I really liked it.

It was also one of the few things I can do fairly well. And it's put food on the table for over 40 years.
Markets crash. Markets recover. Inflation takes your money FOREVER.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by mak1277 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:30 pm

Cruise wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:20 pm
LiterallyIronic wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:56 pm
I'm going to have to read through this whole thread and see if it helps me figure out how to figure out what I should be doing. I'm 35 and I've hated every job I've ever had. Most of the time I can't stomach them for more than a year and quit. I went back to school for a second degree just so I could delay working again.

I just quit a job that I hated going to every day. Got a job offer from my first choice company for an 18% raise and twice as many vacation days. I've been employed here for a week and I wish I was dead.
When I hear stories like your's, I hope that the storyteller avails him/herself to a career consultant. Assessing your occupational interests and your talents and limitations can only aid in the selection of an appropriate and enjoyable career.

Good luck to you.
I think that LiterallyIronic is in a very freeing place actually. They know they don't like to work, so there shouldn't be any angst about "finding a job they love", because every job will suck. They can be ruthlessly mercenary and work simply for money. Work hard, save, retire early so you never have to work again. No second guessing about "finding your passion".

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by LiterallyIronic » Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:57 pm

mak1277 wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:30 pm
Cruise wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:20 pm
LiterallyIronic wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:56 pm
I'm going to have to read through this whole thread and see if it helps me figure out how to figure out what I should be doing. I'm 35 and I've hated every job I've ever had. Most of the time I can't stomach them for more than a year and quit. I went back to school for a second degree just so I could delay working again.

I just quit a job that I hated going to every day. Got a job offer from my first choice company for an 18% raise and twice as many vacation days. I've been employed here for a week and I wish I was dead.
When I hear stories like your's, I hope that the storyteller avails him/herself to a career consultant. Assessing your occupational interests and your talents and limitations can only aid in the selection of an appropriate and enjoyable career.

Good luck to you.
I think that LiterallyIronic is in a very freeing place actually. They know they don't like to work, so there shouldn't be any angst about "finding a job they love", because every job will suck. They can be ruthlessly mercenary and work simply for money. Work hard, save, retire early so you never have to work again. No second guessing about "finding your passion".
Yeah, that's pretty much the goal. Finished school at age 32, then work for 18 years while living extremely frugally and saving lots of money, then retiring at 50.

As for how I actually came up with an industry for me to work in, I made a Venn Diagram of "Jobs that pay decent", "Jobs that I can at least manage to somewhat do" and "Things I don't completely hate." I ended up with software development. It didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, because it's a job that I can barely do and the thing I hate about jobs is "being somewhere doing something" which is all jobs. But the pay is decent, so I got that going for me, which is nice.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by fposte » Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:14 pm

I will say for this thread that I was hugely blessed by the messaging from my father, who had a lot of different jobs before he became a lawyer in his mid-30s courtesy of the GI bill. I really wanted to find a vocation and was jealous of the brother who had one (which isn't the job he happily works at now anyway, so so much for that), but I never got any pressure from that from my parents, and instead heard the narrative of "it can take time."

There's an E. L. Doctorow quote about writing: "Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." I think a lot of life is that way, too; I went to grad school in English because I liked it, I took a student job in an area I was really interested in, and it turned out I could make a living doing a kind of writing I didn't know existed. I never really made those decisions about the long-term future until I was about 10 years in and only find the pattern in retrospect, but basically I hit something perfect for me that had a teeny little window of opportunity and squeezed through it.

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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by BigTuna » Sat Dec 08, 2018 6:38 am

catdude wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:16 am

Looking back on my 30-year-old self, what made me miserable then was my perception that I was stuck, with no way out. Once I realized I had a way out, my misery vanished. I'm a firm believer in the importance of having options in life...
I am 28 and in a job/career field (jeweler) that I am burnt out on and hate. Unfortunately now that I have 2 kids and a mortgage I can’t just go “try new things”. Anyways I feel like I’m am “stuck” even though I know I’m not, but I just don’t know what I want to do and it’s frustrating. From what I have read through these posts i haven’t heard it but I feel like unless you go to college for what you want to do, it’s a lot about who you know that can get you in somewhere.

BlueCable
Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2016 9:20 am

Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by BlueCable » Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:35 am

I sorted majors by graduates' salaries at my University and also asked around to find out which majors were hardest. There is correlation between those two criteria. I picked #2 Electrical Engineering because I didn't want to go into petroleum or other environment unfriendly industries (#1 chemical engineering). Thought I would go to med school but realized during the application and shadowing process that I'd rather be an engineer then physician.

Became a software engineer then management and has worked out well for me so far.

ragnathor
Posts: 36
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by ragnathor » Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:13 am

I studied chemical engineering in college. I then thought I wanted to do management consulting, finance, and after a couple of summer internships finally decided on medical school. Luckily an engineering major opened many doors.

I'm happy being a physician but to be honest I think I would've been happy with any of those other careers too.

Some people have a true calling. I don't think I did and I think that's the case for a lot of people. Work is work, most of it is not particularly exhilarating regardless of the field. Anything that is reasonably interesting with friendly colleagues and gives a good work life balance is a homerun in my opinion.

HEDGEFUNDIE
Posts: 1249
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:21 am

ragnathor wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:13 am
Work is work, most of it is not particularly exhilarating regardless of the field. Anything that is reasonably interesting with friendly colleagues and gives a good work life balance is a homerun in my opinion.
I would add well-paid!

Which describes my post-hedge fund, post-management consulting, post-MBA, post-MegaCorp job in tech to a T.

tnr
Posts: 67
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:36 pm

Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by tnr » Sat Dec 08, 2018 5:14 pm

Like many of the posters above, I was above average in math in high school. I was pushed by parents to go pre-med but quickly decided after my first biology course that an MD wasn't in the cards. I still enjoyed math but wasn't interested in the abstract math courses. One of my professors suggested looking at statistics graduate schools and after one course in mathematical statistics, I decided to pursue that option. Fortunately, the field was just starting to explode due to the rapid advance in computation and software and I was able to finance my way through the PhD program on my own. After getting my PhD, I moved to the pharma industry where statistics was starting to expand because of the increased demand and complexity of clinical trials. I was fortunate to stay with one company for over 28 years and when downsizing started, I took early retirement and moved into an academic research institute that manages clinical trials. I have been in my research associate professor position there for the past seven years. Statistics (now labeled as biostatistics) was a good fit for me because I enjoy programming, problem solving, and interacting with others to solve real problems. I am also fortunate that the job prospects for the field have been good for the past 40 years.

Advice for high school/college students?? Keep an open mind, explore a variety of options both in coursework and in work experiences. Try to find internships and summer jobs. Even if you hate the job or internship, you get valuable experience. I don't think you need to find an optimal career - just one where you are satisfied that you are contributing and can be paid to a level you will be content with. I have no doubt that a large number of future careers don't exist now (and many current jobs will disappear) so you need to keep your eyes open and keep learning.

stoptothink
Posts: 4531
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by stoptothink » Sat Dec 08, 2018 5:22 pm

BigTuna wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 6:38 am
catdude wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:16 am

Looking back on my 30-year-old self, what made me miserable then was my perception that I was stuck, with no way out. Once I realized I had a way out, my misery vanished. I'm a firm believer in the importance of having options in life...
I am 28 and in a job/career field (jeweler) that I am burnt out on and hate. Unfortunately now that I have 2 kids and a mortgage I can’t just go “try new things”. Anyways I feel like I’m am “stuck” even though I know I’m not, but I just don’t know what I want to do and it’s frustrating. From what I have read through these posts i haven’t heard it but I feel like unless you go to college for what you want to do, it’s a lot about who you know that can get you in somewhere.
I had two kids, a mortgage, and was 31 when I made a career change into an industry I didn't even know existed 2yrs prior, and I didn't know a single person that had ever worked in said industry...one of the best decision I have ever made. I did, though, have a PhD (in a somewhat related field) and confidence that if it didn't work that my education and experience spoke for itself; I could get a job in my previous industry really fast.

Don't blame family and responsibilities for sticking in a job that you hate, it's an excuse. If developing new skills, contacts, and getting out of a job you hate are a priority, you'll make it happen.

RMD3819
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:40 pm

Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by RMD3819 » Sat Dec 08, 2018 6:04 pm

During/after HS I wanted to be in hospital/health care administrator. Dad golfed with a hospital administrator and I talked with him. He gave me a candid opinion on the field and I was intrigued.

Also during HS I joined an emergency services Explorer post. This led to membership in a volunteer fire/EMS department at 16 then EMT at 17 and paramedic at 18 (in CC by then)-all volunteer.

Enrolled at CC then went far away to finish the last two years. I majored in health administration. Final semester (unpaid) internship at a nursing home where they offered me a social work type position. Turned it down as I wasn't really interested plus was going straight to grad school.

Finished grad school (MPH-Public Health) at 22. That is when I heard, over and over, nice degree, no experience-sorry.

Some highlights:
-Grad school professor/advisor was from Egypt and was a consultant on an EMS project in Kuwait. He said contact him right before graduating if I was interested in working on that project. When that time rolled around the project was cancelled.
-Applied to the USAF. Not accepted.
-The latter part of grad school I was working as a hospital phlebotomist. Two immediate bosses and the assistant administrator all approached me separately encouraging me to apply for the corporations administrator training program-one of the giant players. I did. Not accepted.
-Grad school (unpaid) internship created a position to continue the project I had been doing for free. Internal politics ensued and the position was never filled. They hired a consultant for $400K to finish the work I started.

I was 24 and discouraged so decided to go back to what I loved doing-EMS/medic. I worked a few part time places during school so still had my hand in it. I was hired at a career place with no intention of staying long term so I continued to look:
-Applied to a start up HMO as a physician recruiter. College friend worked there and introduced me. Applied but then did not hear anything. Out of business a few months later.
-Stockbroker. Always had a side interest in this. Draw plus commission. Turned it down. Out of business a few months later.
-Health care job in Saudi Arabia. They flew me to DC for the interview where it was discovered they made a mistake in calling me. They were hiring for academic administrators (which I was not) and "other positions" so I applied. Turns out there were no "other positions". Free trip to DC.

I gave up looking. Then, thirteen years later, a dream job in Saudi Arabia, family included. A few weeks into the paperwork the project is cancelled.

Two years later the same folks hiring for Saudi Arabia are now hiring for Qatar. I contact them. They say send a resume, we are going there in a few weeks and will keep you in mind.

Guess what date I sent them my resume?

September 10, 2001.

That was my cue to give up. I accepted my fate and continued doing what I loved. Stayed at my current employer for 30 years and retired at 54.

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Will do good
Posts: 702
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Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by Will do good » Sat Dec 08, 2018 6:10 pm

I wasn't the typical BH student growing up, I wasn't good with math, science or english.

We grew up poor, during HS junior year I needed a job and join the school work study co-op, we go to school half day and work the afternoon in a "trade". I found a catalog photo studio needing a photo assistant. While working at the studio my photographer/mentor told me if you want to be in charge one day, don't be the photographer be the art director, be the guy who comes up with the idea.

In college I majored in graphic design, discovered while I can't draw but I'm very creative in coming up with marketing ideas. After working few years at small ad agencies I got recruited at one of the bigger ad agency in the world and later became a creative director, I traveled all over the world making things beautiful, desirable for global brands and worked with many industry leaders.

After 20+ years I was layoff from the mega-corp, instead of looking for another job I started my own little agency with my past contacts, ended up more financial secure than I ever imagine in my field and retired early couple of years ago.

To all those kids out there that's not the typical "smart" student, there are other options for us.

ameeker
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:21 pm

Re: How did YOU choose your career?

Post by ameeker » Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:28 pm

What is your current job (or former job, if retired), and how did you decide to enter that profession?

I am a technical writer, and I decided to enter that profession because technical writing was a compatible minor to an English major. Though my career choice was not haphazard, as I was one of the rare ones who knew exactly what major I would have before college, it was also a warning of be careful what you wish for because you just might get it, meaning that what seemed good at the time might not have been the best choice in the long haul. Sure, I can do it, but when your seniority and years of experience are ignored, promotions do not come despite hard work, life is all about adding 300 captions or fixing 300 acronyms in a document, and life feels a lot like Office Space, it leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, the people are nice and it pays the bills, but I do not intend to stay in this career field forever.

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