Finding the Right Career: Wait or Go For It?

Aug 5, 2014 | Professionalism

Smiling businesspeople

Thankfully, I was one of those kids who knew which career path to pursue early on in life. By junior year of high school I wanted to be in business, and it didn’t take long to realize I loved marketing. I enrolled in my high school’s internship program, and a couple interviews later I landed a spot at 212 Media Studios. I started the internship in the fall of 2012. At that time, only about a dozen employees were here. Immediately I wondered, “Why would a start-up with so few employees want to take on interns?” Running and maintaining a start-up must be incredibly strenuous, so why on earth would they want the added stress of an intern who has never been a part of the ‘real world?’ It didn’t take long for me to figure out why. 212 Media Studios cares about this community.

Pursuing a career early is essential. 212 Media Studios helped me to do just that, and now I have been a part-time employee for over a year while going to college. Growing up I was pressured by nearly every teacher to discover what I loved to do. By freshman year of high school, I was expected to select my major and the colleges I wanted to attend. Many people argue that this is too much to expect of a young student. They tell us not to worry about it and that we can change our minds at any time. 

I am here to argue that my teachers got this one right. I believe it is very important to determine and follow your occupational path as early as you can. Obviously, you can be successful even if you determine your career path later, but discovering it early certainly has benefits:

1. It helps you get the most out of your undergraduate years.

By promptly choosing a degree, you can schedule undergraduate courses that will best prepare you. Going into college knowing your career path will allow you to take as many applicable and relevant classes as you can.

2. It saves time if you change your mind.

Many of us have begun immersing ourselves in a subject, only to learn that we hate it. The earlier you start working toward your career, the sooner you’ll know whether or not you truly love it—and the more time you’ll have to change directions.

3. It gives more opportunities for experience.

Deciding your major early allows plenty of time to gain experience in that field. Few things on a résumé are more attractive than notable experience. We all understand that jobs are not as easy to land as they used to be. A good amount of real-world practice can bring attention to your résumé and put you on top of the competition.

Personally, the coolest thing I’ve experienced about finding my major early is learning on the job and in the classroom at the same time. I’m regularly given opportunities to incorporate what I learn in class one day into my job the very next day. And vice versa: I can apply what I have picked up on the job to my school work.

I’m definitely not saying it’s impossible to effectively switch occupations later in life. Grad school, internships, etc. can always help you catch up and get more experience. However, beginning a career path is a long journey. I’d prefer to start it at a younger age.

What do you think? I want to hear about your experiences—did you change directions later in life? If so, what was it like?

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