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How can I find a career?

Nothing sparks my interest, but I do love animals. Well that’s a start, says our elder. 

 

Dear EWC

I’m 28 and feel like I am not doing anything with my life. I am working customer service at a mom-and-pop business and don’t think there will be much growth here down the road. I am making just enough to make ends meet. I have thought about going to school and I cannot think of anything that sparks my interest. Now I have a baby and think I should be doing more with my life so I can be financially stable. I tried to start an online school for veterinary technician because I love animals and did not even last two days because it felt overwhelming. Then I tried to look into school for medical coding because it is possible to work from home with that type of career but I feel like the school part of it would be boring. Ideally, I would like to work from home so I can be near my baby. What can I do or how can I choose a career path that’s right for me? Is school even worth it when it costs so much money and job placement is not guaranteed?

 

Scriber replies

Thank you for writing. It sounds like you’re thinking about what you want to do in the future, but you’re unsure how to go about it. 

You mention in your letter that you cannot think of anything that sparks your interest, but you also mention that you love animals. So, you’ve already identified at least one special interest. However, when you tried to pursue this interest by participating in an online class, “I tried to start an on-line school for veterinary technician… and did not even last two days because it felt overwhelming”, you discovered that the class may not have been what you expected and/or perhaps you weren’t prepared for it. However, you’re still interested in animals, so try not to let this experience discourage you from pursuing your interest in animals. 

In the meantime, if you’re in the position to do some volunteer work, you could look into volunteering at an animal shelter or a zoo. Over time, you may develop special skills in working with one particular kind of animal or doing certain tasks. The key is to place yourself in that kind of environment where you’ll have access to information that can be useful. You’ll be exposed to other people who either work and/or volunteer in this field and this will help you to network. Keep your eyes and ears open to new opportunities while volunteering. 

Another way to gain information in this field, or any other one, is to read books about that particular topic. There are also career books that provide information on how to identify your special interests and skills. When you get a chance, I strongly recommend checking out these books at your local library. The point is – don’t limit yourself. Keep all your options open. Even if you don’t possess certain skills right now, what are you generally good at doing and/or what kind of things really interest you? Do you like working around people? Do you like working with your hands? Are you good with numbers? These are the kinds of questions you’ll see in different career books which can help guide you on deciding which direction to pursue. 

You noted in your letter, “Is school even worth it when it costs so much money and job placement is not guaranteed?” and that’s a great question to ask. There are many successful entrepreneurs and other people who never attended college or any kind of educational institution beyond high school. However, in my opinion, I believe that obtaining a formal higher education beyond high school is worth it for many reasons. You noted that school costs a lot of money and that’s true. It’s like an investment in yourself and it usually pays off, but you’re right when you state that there’s no guarantee for a job. It is a bit of a gamble, but the odds are in your favor that you’re going to win. 

If you’re interested in attending college, I’m going to give you some tips on how you can attend for free, or almost free. There are many scholarships and grants available to students. There are different ways you can find out about these opportunities. You can do some research on the internet and/or you can speak with a financial aid officer at your local community college (or any college). Another way to pay for college is to find a place of employment that offers tuition assistance as a benefit. I was around your age when I decided to go to college and it was the best thing I have ever done because the experience changed my life in too many ways to adequately discuss here. I had small children and had been working at a full-time job for many years. Long story short, my job offered tuition assistance as a benefit and I took advantage of it. I started attending a local community college in the evening and over the next few years I earned a couple associate degrees and a certificate in a particular program. From there, I applied for admission to a university where, over the next several years, I continued to attend classes at night and eventually earned undergraduate and graduate degrees. The whole process took twelve years of attending two classes per semester, including the summers, and it was 100% worth it. I was very fortunate that my job paid for everything except my books. But this isn’t about me, this is about you. I only share this information with you so you can see that anything is possible if you apply yourself. In my case, my higher education led to two different careers which I was able to pursue because I had the training and educational background. My situation wasn’t all that unique or original though. Many of my classmates were just like me – working parents attending school at night who wanted something better in life. 

If you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way of making it happen. You’ll find a way to make certain sacrifices because the end result will be well worth all the effort you put into it. If you’re motivated enough, you can do anything. You may not want to attend school at night for twelve years like I did. I can fully understand that. What you may want to do might only require a couple years of school or special training, or even less than that. 

So, right now, I strongly suggest that you review a community college catalog that lists a full description of all the courses and various programs. After you’ve identified some programs and courses that sound interesting to you, make an appointment with an academic advisor. This person can be located in the Counseling Department. The academic advisor will explain all the details to you on how to proceed. If you’re unable to secure a job that pays your tuition, make an appointment with the financial aid officer to discuss the availability of grants and scholarships. Also, like I indicated previously, do some research on-line to locate scholarships and grants. I guarantee you that these kinds of opportunities are out there. I strongly encourage you to apply for as many as you can. 

If you’re really not interested in attending school, then keep thinking outside of the box. Be creative in your approach. You mentioned in your letter, “Ideally, I would like to work from home…”  Think about things that you can do. You can either work for yourself and/or work for an organization and still be able to stay at home. Look into independent contractor opportunities and other options. The key is to be flexible and creative. You can start by trying something on a part-time basis while still keeping your current job. Over time, the part-time situation may develop into something much bigger. When you mentioned your love of animals in your letter, one of the first things I thought about was boarding animals (or animal-sitting). I don’t know if you have the space or facilities for a kennel, or if this is even an interest of yours and/or if it is feasible for you to do, but it was just an idea that came to me. 

I encourage you to be open to change. You can have a very interesting and fulfilling future. You’re not obligated or locked-in to keep the same job or career for a lifetime. You may enjoy doing one thing for a period of time and then gradually develop other interests. Sometimes the new career or job can be indirectly related to the previous one, but not always. I’m thinking about one particular person who is currently an assistant district attorney. This person started doing stand-up comedy, on the side, many years ago. Certain skills were developed over the years and now there are definite plans and opportunities to do comedy full-time. This is just one example of how someone was able to create a new opportunity. Interestingly, the comedy gigs pay a lot more than the assistant DA salary. Go figure! Plus, this person finds comedy a much more rewarding career. The new opportunities didn’t happen overnight. It was a process. Once you start on your own journey, you’ll be traveling down different paths too. 

Finally, look around where you live and/or work to see if there are any people you admire. Do you have any mentors that you respect? If so, ask them how they got to where they are today. 

I hope my advice was helpful to you. Please feel free to write back at any time. 

Article #: 466629

Category: Career

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