Choosing majors

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Choosing majors

Post  hcao09 on Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:49 am

I've been thinking about what i really want to do in the future and I really dont have a clue right now even tho graduation is in less than 2 months. I've had all sorts of plans before but wasnt sure how realistic they really are, and in the end I depended on my parents to pick a major.

SO.. just wondering how everyone got to where they are and figured out where they are going?

and have you made peace with the scary thought of doing one job everyday till retirement?
I think I like alot of different subjects but cant stand the thought of settling down yet.

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Re: Choosing majors

Post  CSOO7 on Tue Apr 21, 2009 11:29 pm

Hi, I'm Conrad and I'm here to represent the There-are-other-ways-to-go-about-life-then-going-to-school-and-working-nine-to-five school of thought.

My question is, if you don't know what you want to do, why are you going to school and spending thousands of dollars to study and stress yourself, only to realize at the end that what you learned in the last 4 years has nothing to do with what you want to do for your career?

Take a gap year and travel or do some volunteer work. You get to learn a whole lot more about the rest of the world, meet new people and connections (who might be able to help you later on in life, you never know) and maybe find something that you'll enjoy doing. For example, you might go to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, dive a few times and find yourself fascinated by the marine life, and want to pursue a career in marine biology or conservation.
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Re: Choosing majors

Post  CHo05 on Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:45 pm

Trying different things is an important part of learning what your niche is, but I know that the idea of giving up school and exploring is a scary step. Conrad's idea is a great one, but taking that step outside schooling (which is what you've known your entire life) is frightening. Conrad would be a good guy to talk to about making the transition from school to exploration possible.

To be honest, I know many people who wrestle with the idea of doing one job for the rest of their lives. You want to hit the nail on the head for this one eh? My family did have expectations for me to become an accountant (like my dad), but I definitely could not be a pencil-pusher for the rest of my life (no offense to accountants, of course). Instead, I grasped at straws and decided on medicine, because it seemed like a good mix of the arts and the natural sciences which I enjoyed equally. In hindsight, I didn't consider how realistic my chances were. After all, in Queen's University alone this year, some 3000 applicants vied for 100 spots. And yet, I was lucky. The more I explored possibilities in healthcare (by volunteering), in scientific research (by doing), in teaching (by tutoring), the more I fell in love with medicine as a career. To be honest, my reasons have evolved and I no longer simply see medicine as some wonderful amalgation of art and science, but I am so comfortable that I have found my niche.

I'm afraid I can't talk about making peace with doing one job every day until retirement, because I was lucky to have found medicine so early in my life. But I can tell you that everybody struggles with that question; I know people who simply grit their teeth and bear it, and I know those who make waves and explore until they find their match. And for those who simply grit their teeth, it is my experience that they, like you, find the thought of doing a meaningless job every day until they reach 55 to be a scary one.

So if you had a choice between 40 years of interesting work or 40 years of drudgery, I wish you 40 years of interesting times. Do you mind if I ask you what were the plans you had before? I know you weren't sure whether they were realistic, but the collective experience of our alumni might give you a better sense of your chances. And if you want to know more about any of my experiences, feel free to post or p.m.

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Re: Choosing majors

Post  nyoung05 on Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:48 pm

I'm like CHo - I was lucky and figured it out early what I wanted to do: design! But when I got to art school, it really opened my eyes about this career choosing thing. I would say about half the students are over 25, either on their second degree or burnt out from their previously chosen career. Some might say their first degree or career was a waste of time, but I think they have the advantage - they have so much more experience and discipline to apply to their newly chosen career.

There is no harm in not knowing what you want to do with your life, and changing/switching degrees in a few years, just as long as you're productive with your time and not bumming around.

You're not even out of high school yet - you are so young still. I have classmates telling ME I'm still young, I still have time. It's true. I see my friends who are 29, 30 and we're finishing our design degrees, and they have absolutely no intention of settling down. They're still looking to explore and travel... they're really inspiring Smile

As for doing one job every day for the rest of your life...
"Find a job you love and never work a day in your life."

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Choosing Majors

Post  AIp09 on Sat Jun 20, 2009 12:12 am

Just a question, wouldn't it be better to take a look at those courses first? I personally don't know what to do and I've been thinking that I like to be able to help people... kinda considering getting out of engineering, yet at the same time, I like group work and stuff, and i like the feeling of getting nice things accomplished, regardless of what it is... all very confusing stuff.

In fact, I chose to go into engineering physics cause they said it covered a lot of engineering.

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Re: Choosing majors

Post  CHo05 on Sat Jun 20, 2009 5:59 pm

Yea, definitely look at those courses first. And get some relevant work/volunteer experience as well! The messages before have all been about trying/exploring new things, and trying out those courses and doing work/volunteer all ties into that. I'm not sure if I understand you correctly, but you seem to suggest that you can't choose a major just because you haven't taken those courses yet. That's a yes and a no. While it's best to choose a major after you've taken a couple courses and found out that you like the material, it's also possible to declare a major and then take all sorts of courses (including those outside your major) to see what you like. Then, if you need to, switch your major.

I don't know why you want to get out of engineering, but explore your options. It doesn't even have to be as clean a break as one may imagine (you may not necessarily, for example, want to stray too far from engineering). But SFU's SIAT program is an amazing project-based program that creates some of the coolest inventions, gadgets, and campaigns while biomedical engineering goes into harder engineering concepts to create prosthetics and other helpful items. You may even want to consider medical lab techs that help hospitals conducts tests on patient samples. The more you explore, the more you realize how flexible each discipline you chose really is. It's only when you've seen enough that you begin to understand how you can customize your discipline for yourself.

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