Committing to just one profession

I’m graduating high school; how can I choose what I want to do? 

Our elder says: you don’t have to! Speak to experts, explore opportunities, and choose a field of study that opens up a range of options.


Dear EWC

Hello, I’m a graduating high school student. At first, I thought I had already decided to pursue education in college, but there’s an uneasy feeling whenever I get asked, “If someday you feel like teaching isn’t what you really wanted, what would you do?”. I was left hanging on the thought that I can’t respond to anything but, “I don’t know”. On the other side of my thoughts, there’s this fear of failure, it keeps on bugging me every day that I only have one chance to pursue a job and I can’t take any other after that because my family’s not rich. I know I can’t repeat a year or shift to another course, and I’ll never blame my parents for that, they have been so kind to support me in my studies. I like to write my thoughts. I’m fond of writing essays just about my thoughts, but in my country, writing isn’t a money-making profession. If I could have a job maybe I’ll choose writing as a hobby, maybe I’ll try to publish books. My main problem is being indecisive, I just want to be committed to one profession, do my best at it, and live life. But I have no idea what profession I should choose, it bothers me. I don’t want to be a jack of all trades forever, at least once, I want to be good at something I really love. I hope you can give me some advice; it would mean a lot. Thanks!


Cairnie replies

Thank you for writing to us. You may be surprised to hear me say this, but I am relieved that you do not yet know what you want to do as a profession.

Why do I say that? Because you’ve only just graduated high school. There are so many careers, fields of study, subjects that you haven’t even learned about yet. I believe that’s what college/higher education is for. I don’t know where you live, and I’m most familiar with education in the USA, so I’ll write about what I know. I hope it can apply to you.

In the USA, we encourage students to take their first year of college and take a wide range of courses in different subjects. We encourage them to join clubs, intern, take work/study, shadow professionals and basically expose themselves to many different areas of study before choosing a major, or even a minor.

It sounds from your letter that you may not have the same time or flexibility. So my suggestion is to get as much advice from experts as possible before having to choose. Is there a guidance counselor at your high school to talk with and review all the options? Is there an academic advisor at the college you will be attending to talk with before committing to a field of study?

Is there a way to choose a field of study (e.g. liberal arts, English, etc) that will allow you to pursue a wide range of jobs, rather than a narrower focus in a technical professional field (such as engineering or pharmacy)?

You mention that you enjoy writing. This is a crucial skill for almost any field, and one you could use for most professions. For example, pharmaceutical companies in the USA hire English majors to write their drug inserts and reports. Most corporations need good writers. Lawyers need to be good writers. Journalists need to be good writers. Think about how to use your writing to help other people and businesses. Government jobs need good writers. Non-profit companies need good writers. And we certainly need teachers to teach good writing.

I also support your thinking about using your writing as a vocation or hobby. You may have many opportunities to write outside of your job, from essays to screenplays, so who knows?

And when people ask you what you’ll do, it’s fine to say that you haven’t discovered that yet, but you’re keeping your mind open. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing, not having decided yet (how can you when you don’t have enough information?) and trusting that you will have more than one chance to pursue a job.

Let me gently disagree with you about one point you make in your letter. I believe that we don’t have to choose one profession as a teenager and stick with it our entire lives. People change, the needs of society change, job opportunities change. I urge you to keep an open mind. It is okay not to commit to one profession for the rest of your life.

I know you will do your best at whatever you do. And as you find new opportunities, go after them! It will make a more interesting life, to keep growing and challenging yourself. For right now, talk with some experts for their advice about choosing your first field of study and career. Focus on that if you love, and see where life will take you. And see what your college has to offer you. You may be pleasantly surprised!


Article #: 485051

Category: Other

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