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How did you choose you career? Are you happy with your choice?

We are faced with the decision of choosing a career so early , when we actually still know little about life; few of us have clear view of what we want to pursue but for the most choosing a college is a hard decision to make because we don't know what we want. In US you can start college and make up your mind as you go while in many countries you have to commit from the start.
How was this process for you? Years into your career do you feel that you made the right decision? Would you chose the same second time around? Did you look for advice from other people? from parents? from educators? from role models? Did you know what you would be good at? Did you consider the potential income your career will bring you? Did you actually look at the trends in economy to figure out your employment prospects?

  • Apr 14 2013: I didn't look at any of those factors. I started out in a general science program in university, switched to geology and ended up working in computer system. Throughout university, I took the courses that interested me without regard to a final "job". It was my position at the time that you could not possible learn enough going to classes and labs to be actually worth anything to a company when you graduated. You could only learn how to learn, have the fundamentals of your profession and be prepared to adapt quickly when you actually landed a job.
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      Apr 15 2013: Hi Gordon I think you were right; college gives you the fundamental concepts of the field you study and teaches you how to research and solve problems in your job. We don't have to look at a career choice as to something permanent, we can reevaluate and figure out along the way.
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    Apr 14 2013: I did not choose my career. It chose me. When I looked up, I saw what color my parachute was. I am a rare lucky person because only those who follow their passion are happy with their career, I think.
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      Apr 15 2013: Yes, you are lucky for having had a passion and turned it into a career; it is harder for people that don't feel a strong calling in a specific direction and that's what I am interested in exploring people's way of rationalizing what step to take. Should you go by aptitude, or may be you should just try whatever sounds good for the time being and then switch career if it turns out not being what you like to do? Some things we like to do could be kept as hobbies.
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    Apr 14 2013: I suspect that the factors that have gone into people's career planning over time may be as much connected to the state of the economy when they were entering school and the potential help they could get from their families and networks as they are to personal values. When I was in college, for example, people who had degrees, almost regardless of what they were in, would typically be able to find work. For example, a relative of mine majored in medieval languages and got a job with a software firm in the Silicone Valley, having taken no science or computer science and one semester of math.

    This would be unlikely now, I think.

    My perspective on university education is to acquire for yourself a strong foundation in fundamental critical thinking skills, both qualitative and quantitative so that you have the flexibility to move in different directions at different points in your career. This way you don't force yourself into a single path in which you may lose interest.
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      Apr 15 2013: I grew up and went to college in Eastern Europe during the communist regime; it was very rooted in the culture that you should go to college and get a degree of some kind for the same kind of reason you mention (if you had a degree of some kind you had better chances to be employed); college was free and the only condition to be accepted was to pass very difficult exams and score well; the number of vacancies were limited so the selection of the candidates was made based on the scores you got in the exams; people would get degrees (especially engineering degrees in specialties they would never actually practice just because they had better chances to be admitted in that specific college. There was almost an inflation of BS degrees; now from what I hear most people get a master degree.
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        Apr 15 2013: In contrast, when I was entering college, as I remember, the big news story was layoffs among engineers. I went to a college with a top flight engineering school, but I knew only one person- a woman- who set a course to study engineering. She did become an engineer specializing in sound.

        90% of the students, it seemed, wanted to be medical doctors.

        I remember on applying to university now over forty years ago I wrote that my greatest interest was to study how the brain associates thoughts to come up with and develop ideas. This continues to be a great interest of mine, but I did not study it from a scientific standpoint, in part because in my first year freshman chemistry lab course, I found I disliked all the washing (and breaking) of glassware.

        I did have a great love of mathematics and proof in particular, so less in the modeling applications than in the "pure" aspect, which one might consider its aesthetic dimension. It also appealed to me that in math one did not need to memorize anything to speak of. It was all construction from ideas, symmetries, and so forth.

        My work has always had to do with using and trying to understand critical and creative thinking. I suspect that many people revolve around a theme, even if they do not realize it.
  • Apr 14 2013: The choices, that the youth of today have, are truly mind boggling. If I had it to do over, I would surely go into Plastination or some form of Paleontology.
    I chose Cartography/Geography and art when I went to university. I used my own thoughts and what interested me at the time. Never did I think about what sort of income it would bring me. The art has always been my life boat and steady income. I studied what fit me best.
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      Apr 15 2013: I initially studied Forestry/Natural resource Mgmt and today I'm in GIS/Mapping (coincidence) but if I had to do it over I would chose a people related line of work (psychology , medicine) When I was young I strongly rationalized against working with people but over time I changed or I understand life better; I think you can draw the strongest satisfaction in life from helping people.