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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Have a Plan

It’s a good idea to have a plan of what you will do after university or college before you go.  Not that this plan is set in stone, but going to university to ‘hang out’ is an expensive way to hang out – you can hang out working as a store clerk while making and saving money.

Deciding to pursue a degree in a certain department because you like the subject is nice, but it may not get you to where you want.  Dragon’s Den’s Kevin O’Leary explains in his book ‘Men, Women, and Money’ that there is a passion, and a money-making career.  You can decide that you want to be a visual artist and paint beautiful landscape.  This is a very fulfilling occupation and you will most likely be very happy doing this for hours a day.  However, this is unlikely to pay the bills, at least at the beginning.  So, training for a job, to be employable, is a better financial investment in your education; painting is a fantastic side-occupation and you may want to train for a job that frees you in the evenings and weekends so you can paint, or that is flexible enough that you can eventually work part-time and pursue your love of painting more intently if you have the means.

So, in investing thousands of dollars in education should pay off at the end.  Studying marketing and finances so you can work in a bank is a good plan.  Studying biology because you like animals… not so good.  It’s very important to research what type of paying job (or business you can start) you would like to have, and work backwards from there: you want to work at an animal hospital? Animal Technicians, Receptionists, and Veterinarians are all work there and require specific training.  You want to cuddle animals and play with them? Look into animal training and animal grooming; horseback riding instructor could also be a possibility.

There is an excellent USA-sponsored site that helps you determine what your interests are, as well as defining your skills: .  You can there fill out free questionnaires to determine what sort you career you may want to launch yourself into.  For some people, it’s difficult to choose.  For others, the interests are well –defined and they know what type of work they want to do.

Some careers require a plan ‘B’.  This is the plan where if plan ‘A’ does not turn out as successful as planned (or completely fails), there is an alternative route to follow.  For example, deciding to obtain an undergraduate in biochemistry and then go to medical school to become a cardiac surgeon is a fantastic plan.  However, not all students who apply to medical school get an offer to join.  In this case, a plan B could be:

- Start a Master’s degree in biochemistry and continue applying.  If the Master’s is completed before acceptance into Medical School, abandon Medical School and apply to Nursing School.

- At the same time as applying to Medical School, apply to Optometry, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy and Dentistry and choose an alternate career based on which program has accepted me.

- Start a Master’s degree in biochemistry and continue applying.  If the Master’s is completed before acceptance into Medical School, start and complete a PhD in biochemistry with the goal of a career in medical-type research.

Of course, as your studies progress, you may change your course; maybe biochemistry and medical school are not so attractive anymore so you are thinking of history.  That’s great – better change now thank to complete a degree you don’t like and have to restart another.  But what is your plan with this history degree? History is fantastic to study, but not so good at finding you a job.  You want to be a history teacher? A tour guide for a city? An educator at a museum? All three options would be fantastic to use your history degree; however, becoming a teacher requires an education degree (and this would be preferred for an educator at a museum too) and a tour guide would do best knowing multiple languages.

So work backwards from your dream job – you’ll get head faster I your career.

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