What would you advise a young person today? In considering various career options, would you go with ‘follow your heart,’ ‘do the math’—or something in between?
Last week, I posted this note on Work Stew’s Facebook page:
Recently, I had a drink with a dentist. I asked him (as I am wont to do) why he decided to become a dentist.
He said that, after college, he asked all the healthcare providers he knew if he could follow them around for a bit. Trailing his dentist, he liked what he saw: the chance to be an entrepreneur, the opportunity to achieve tangible results every day, the promise of a comfortable lifestyle without being consumed by work.
He decided to become a dentist.
What a supremely rational and informed approach! So different from what I did: taking a job at a PR agency—solely because it called itself a “writer’s shop”—without knowing (truth be told) the first thing about PR. I was so blinded by what I saw as My Passion—to communicate! to write!—that I ended up making a career choice that was, in retrospect, a pretty poor fit.
Which leads me to wonder: does following our hearts sometimes steer us awry? Should we all be making more dentist-like decisions?
Some Work Stew contributors have already weighed in on this question. Tasha Huebner essentially concluded that ‘follow your heart’ is crazy talk, especially in a country where health insurance is tied to employment. Menekse Gencer, on the other hand, found that pursuing her passion was exactly the right thing to do: today, she’s a successful entrepreneur who loves her work. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that Menekse’s passion is mobile payment systems. What about those who love nothing more than to paint? Or to act? Or to play basketball? What paths should they pursue?
So, please weigh in:
What were you advised as a kid? What informed your career choices? What might you have done differently had you known then what you know now? And what would you advise a young person today?
Perhaps we can ladle some collective wisdom out of this here stew.