Changing Careers

When I was in high school and still today, I think about how odd our educational system is. For the first 18 years of our life, we somehow need to figure out what we want to be when we grow up. When we were younger (elementary and younger) that was an easy answer, it was whatever sounded cool/impressive or the one occupation we knew about. However, as life got to be more “real” we started to realize that not all jobs are equal and opportunities itself was also unequal. So… how do we expect an 18 year old who maybe has a vague idea of what they want to be, choose a career?

During my time here at the Colorado School of Mines,I have had the chance to a lot of different people: students, faculties, and professionals. At career fairs, many companies seem to want someone that is set in stone for their career. They don’t need someone that is unsure about their career path because uncertainty is a bad investment to make for an employer. However, outside of career fair, just from networking or casually talking, I have found that the majority of people, even professionals, don’t know what they want to do in the future. The magnitude of “I don’t know what I want to do” most likely varies from person to person. As an example, it could be a civil engineer who is currently doing design, but he/she doesn’t know if they want to stay in design or eventually go into construction in the future. This would be on a smaller scale because the individual knows that they want to stay in the civil engineering industry. A more severe situation would be that a student studying engineering in college and graduates, finds out that they don’t like it as much and now wants to be a journalist. This is where the video I watched comes in.

Why You Still Have Time To Change Career was a video I saw that explained that young people often get caught up in their current major and are too scared to change their career path after they have invested thousands of dollars and time to receive a degree they don’t even want anymore. The video referred to this as the job investment trap. Although the video doesn’t go into the finances at all, it goes into more depth about the time that we invested. Our perception that  four years of studying is very minimal compared to the amount of time we have to pursue a career. If we expect to work until 60 years old, then 4 years is only a fifteenth of that time.

Nowadays, it’s uncommon for someone to stay in the company they are first hired in. Millenials are the most notorious for this for some reason and used to be/still is frowned upon to a certain degree. However, the more I think about it, we have a lot of people that have essentially changed career paths. We have so many professors here at the Colorado School of Mines who were researchers or workers in industry and now dedicate their time to teach. Although not too large of a change, it’s still a change in career right? After watching this video, and although I do enjoy learning about civil engineering, I felt that I still didn’t want to limit myself to one major. I still have time to learn about other things and potentially go onto a different career path.

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One thought on “Changing Careers

  1. I have changed career tracks a number of times: architect to engineer to academic. Even within academia, my job is constantly changing — teaching those high-capacity Mech.Mat. sections is a completely different animal than developing this CEEN 360 course, for example. It’s a shame that education doesn’t give students a better idea for what career options are out there, and how to match these with your passions / interests / skills / values. I suppose the high school guidance counselors are supposed to help with this, but how can you _really_ know what a career is like, unless you immerse yourself in it? Great post.

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