Guest Post: Choosing a Career

When I look back at my 18-year old self, I think that that age is way to one for someone to choose what they want to do for a living for the rest of their life.   I suppose that is probably why many people switch careers one or more times in their life.  I know that at 17, when I was asked what I wanted to major in and what I wanted to do, I really had NO idea.  I knew that in High School I really enjoyed and seemed to be good at Spanish.  I knew I liked helping people, and had lots of patience, so the idea I had in my head at the time was I may want to be a Spanish teacher.  My dad had casually recommended that I might want to try a computer science class.

My first year in college I took a vast array of different classes.  That included Spanish, Education, Computer Science, and Calculus.  I am notoriously bad at decision-making and since this is a fairly major life decision, it was quite difficult for me.  I was good at, and was interested in, a lot of things – but never really excelled at any one thing in particular.

By the end of the first year I had decided that I didn’t want to be a teacher.  I can’t pinpoint what it was that caused me to make that decision.  I did well in my computer and Spanish classes so continued to take both.  I also participated in a tutoring program where students at my college would go to a library in the inner city one day a week and help young kids with their homework.

Ultimately as my sophomore year progressed I decided that I enjoyed my computer science classes, I did well in them, I would be able to get a job in the field, and I would be able to make a decent amount of money doing it.  Seemed like decent enough reasons at the time.  Basically, I just couldn’t think come up with anything else that would be a better choice.  I don’t believe that at the time I was thinking about what this really meant.  I didn’t really think about how it would affect my life or about doing it for the next 45 years.

I didn’t really know who I was at the time.    I hadn’t had enough life experience yet.  I somehow managed to stumble upon a path that worked for me.  Almost 10 years later I am still working in the field I received my degree in and was able to save enough money doing it to purchase my first home on my own.  Added bonus: I met my boyfriend as a result of the career I chose.

How did you decide what you wanted to do as a career and at what age did you decide?  Have you switched careers since your first job out of school?

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  1. Gary on 2009-02-25 at 11:26

    For myself, I decided early on that I wanted to be a teacher – my first careers interview was based on that, and I went through university doing a secondary education teaching course. I qualified, did a couple of years teaching in schools, then switched to teaching in prisons for a couple of years. I then then went to Malaysia for the best part of a year, and so when I came back, I fancied doing web development as a career; I’d been doing it as a hobby for the past ten years anyway, so now was the chance for me to put it to work!



  2. Kate Davis on 2009-03-04 at 16:28

    I have always been envious of people who knew what career they wanted and went to university to study it. I studied a general science degree and gradually specialised in chemistry and environment. After 4 years I realised I wanted to do more on the environment so completed a general environmental masters. Through my job I have been able specialise in water minimisation which I feel strongly about so get a great deal of satisfaction from.

    However, if I was to do it again with what I know now, I would want to study to be either an environmental architecture or a chiropractor.



  3. erin on 2009-03-09 at 03:54

    Gary, it certainly sounds like you have done some interesting jobs within the teaching field. Best of luck with the web development!

    Kate Davis, I too envy those who knew early on what they wanted to pursue as a career. My grandmother loves to tell how my uncle knew by the age of 14 that he wanted to be a doctor. It’s great that you are doing something that you feel strongly about and gives you satisfaction. A lot of people aren’t so lucky.