What am I going to do with my life? How am I going to make money? What am I going to study? What kind of impact am I going to have on the world? Lots of students and professionals (including myself) ask or have asked these questions. Growing up in a small rural town as I did gives you all the benefits of a close-knit community. But one downside is a lack of exposure to different careers, simply because you don’t know they exist. I’ve always had a keen curiosity for discovering what else is out there. Is there an opportunity I’m missing because I don’t know about it? Cue the creation of eQuez: a platform that helps students discover careers, find schools and make smart choices about higher education.
Let’s take a closer look at navigating your career, and, in the greater scheme of life, your calling.
Look at the people around you, what kind of work do they do? Are there certain careers that pique your interest? Have you searched online exploring what else is out there? What about conducting informational interviews or shadowing professionals? Better yet, have you worked in different jobs or roles to see what you like and don’t like and what you are and are not good at? There are lots of ways to discover careers. And, unfortunately, there isn’t a magic silver bullet that will tell you exactly what to do. You need to put in the work to determine what is right for you. The discovery process can come in a variety of formats (i.e. researching, interviewing, and doing) and is not the same for everyone. The main point is to be open and to put forth the effort to find what gels with you.
Other factors to consider when exploring careers are market demand and lifestyle. Will you be able to earn a livable wage and make enough money to afford the lifestyle you envision? Consider the stress of the work and the number of hours required. Different careers offer different outcomes. Your preferences may not be the same as others and that’s okay because we all have our own lifestyle and monetary aspirations. The important thing to figure out is what you want and value most. Also, know that your career goals may change over time. You may want to do something new or the external market may force you to go in a different direction. Either way, be open to opportunities, you most likely won’t find them if you aren’t looking!
One factor you shouldn’t consider: what other people want or expect of you. In most cases, such wants and expectations are well-intentioned. However, your career and the choices surrounding it, are deeply personal. You should stay true to what resonates with you, after all, you will be the one who is living with your choices every day, not anyone else.
The next step is to determine if you need formal education to pursue your professional goal. If the answer is yes, you will want to research schools that offer the specific program you are looking for. You should consider all options, not only schools that are close by or schools that appear on so-and-so rankings. Why? Because there might be great schools that are a better fit or less expensive you aren’t aware of. Limiting yourself geographically (and we get it, in some cases you may have to), eliminates any chance of considering a school that might be a great fit and/or less expensive that falls outside of your search radius. For the traditional published rankings, yes, take a look, but, take each one with a grain of salt. Traditional ranking systems do have pitfalls (school exclusion, flawed methodologies, data omission, and the subjectivity of qualitative data to name a few). Instead, focus on what you personally need and want from a school and weigh those factors most heavily when comparing schools. eQuez has developed a personalized ranking system to help students do just that.
If schooling is required, you will want to consider all your options carefully. Doing your research and conducting due diligence on school options is important. Many factors may weigh into your decision such as the size of the program, the location of the program, or certain specializations offered. Your choice is a big investment in both time and finances. You cannot get back time and there is also an opportunity cost to consider. What income could you bring in if you were employed instead of in school? The financial impact of this choice can follow you for years to come. Increasing your future earning potential post-graduation is very likely a goal. Or you might be looking to make a career change for personal reasons. In any case, the required initial investment up front must be considered. Student loan debt in the U.S. is now over a staggering $1.5 trillion with 44.7 million Americans with student loan debt, according to the Federal Reserve.¹ Unmanageable student loan debt can haunt you for years to come.
With that said, you should do everything in your power to make sure your investment in education yields a positive return. Consider the investment required versus what you will likely make after completing a program. Cost compare schools, live modestly and borrow as little as possible. Take advantage of opportunities in school, network and spend time on your job search to increase the likelihood of successful job placement after graduation. The decision to attend a program has the power to dramatically impact your life for better or for worse. You’ll want to make sure you are making your decision with eyes wide open. And remember, you will have the biggest impact on your success by your abilities, effort and willingness to hustle. Your success is not necessarily contingent upon the school you choose to attend.
Let eQuez Help You Find Your Calling
eQuez was developed to help students in their quest for education. We hope to give all students access to information, from those tucked away in cozy rural towns to those immersed in the hustle of the metropolitan and everyone between. We want students to make informed decisions about their careers and educational endeavors.
We’ll end with this: Search for a career that utilizes your strengths and work that fulfills you. Find and pursue your calling. The world needs you and your unique talents, and we need you now.
The first career we are exploring: podiatry. What’s that? Stay tuned! We will be sharing information from practicing podiatrists, current students, and residents.
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