When we head off to school, we all hope to do something fulfilling while also being able to make a decent living. Some of us had a true calling to particular area and many more of us simply listened to the advice of those around us. For some, this meant making a decision on what career path to choose as young as 17 or 18 years old.
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Knowing what you know now, would you still get the degree or other education you did? Yeah, yeah. Hindsight is 20/20 and many things in our lives cannot easily be predicted, but do you think there are logical reasons why taking the path you took wasn’t a good idea?
I got a degree in journalism because I enjoyed writing. And I actually worked at a TV station and also in technical writing, until realizing how little I actually got paid in these jobs and how difficult it was to advance n this career field. Suddenly, being college educated and making $15 an hour (after a much-anticipated raise) didn’t seem like living the dream. So I went back to school – to law school. Attorneys make a lot of money, right? I could even do some work related to social justice or other worthy causes, fulfilling my need to ‘make a difference.’ And while I have managed to never practice law, I can at least see some value in the education I received. I kind of have to, or I’ll go nuts – that hefty monthly student loan payment screams the monetary value of said degree.
I think that many people get tied to the educations that are supposed to set them free. Once you commit to the investment of higher education in a particular area, it can be hard to break away from the traditional path that degree may set you up for. But in today’s world, a ‘traditional’ career path is less and less the norm. More people are finding ways to combine a variety of skills to create careers that are a better fit.
“My original degree and career was journalism. I’m now in online marketing, and the transition started after newspapers began to suffer as online media became more popular,” says Sarah Snyder-Castañeda, Brand Manager at a San Antonio online marketing agency and mom blogger. “I had zero formal education in the type of stuff I do now – advertising, marketing, SEO, social media, and website publishing. I learned everything on the job and on my own in my free time. My formal education was of value in other ways – it demonstrated to potential employers my level of commitment and ability to complete something. For employers who do need a journalistic writing style, that degree comes in handy, as well.”
I’d encourage anyone feeling boxed in by a career path they chose at an early age, and probably without all the information they needed, to think outside that box and start exploring other options. If you are feeling the itch to try something different and want to explore some new opportunities, I’d suggest starting with the below series I wrote on this topic. I also enjoyed the book The Art of Work, by Jeff Goins, which addresses this topic in an interesting and concise way.
If you’ve already made the switch to a different career, tell us about it in the comments below. We’d love to learn from your experiences.