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I urgently need career guidance


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Old 13th October 2016, 12:06 AM   #1
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I urgently need career guidance

I'm a 28-year-old mature student at university. I have no real work history and have basically wasted my late teens and twenties in a haze of severe depression, lethargy, and recklessness. I have no credentials or qualifications beyond high school. I've recently been diagnosed with ADHD.

What's really perplexing me is that I still have very little idea of what I want to do with my future career-wise and am feeling overwhelmed by the pressure and consequences of all the mistakes and bad decisions I've made over the years. I'm also in a pretty bad financial situation.

I don't want to -- can't afford to -- waste any more time. I need to make all the right decisions now. Unfortunately, I have no access to people who can give me advice from the viewpoint of an employer. My parents are doctors (one's retired, one's an expat) and have no idea of the job market outside medicine. I find that career counselors at university often know little more than I do. The Internet is vast and mostly unreliable.

I understand that there are many highly successful people on this forum of advanced age and tremendous experience. I would really appreciate it if someone were willing to lend an ear to my situation and offer their input as to what specific steps I should take.
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Old 13th October 2016, 12:15 AM   #2
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My parents are doctors (one's retired, one's an expat) and have no idea of the job market outside medicine. I find that career counselors at university often know little more than I do. The Internet is vast and mostly unreliable.
These just sound like excuses to be honest. There are good resources online, it's more about how involved you get rather than expecting people to hand you opportunities.

LinkedIn is great if you put the time into being involved in discussions, topics and applying to jobs. Ask people to connect for informational interviews.

Find out if areas like software (Do you like working with computers?), graphic design (are you artistically inclined?) or analysis (Are you good with numbers?) interest you. Take some free classes or do some self-education online for the tools and hard skills that are most common in those paths.

That's what I'm currently doing to grow in my career as an analyst. Watching YouTube videos, taking online classes and tutorials to learn how to use the computer science skills and tools that are increasingly necessarily in my field.

But it really all starts with finding out what career path you want to pursue. I can't tell you that, only you can decide.
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Old 13th October 2016, 12:17 AM   #3
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There are career choice tests that can help you determine where your talents and interests lie. What careers you might be best suited for.

Take several. They will usually give you similar answers and from there you can choose a career path to pursue.
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Old 13th October 2016, 12:20 AM   #4
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Jammer25 thank you for pointing me to these sources. My problem is that I just can't keep track of myself when I go online looking for information. I have too many questions specific to my case and info on the web is mostly general. It would really be great if someone could understand my exact details and circumstances and offer input based on those specificities. Nothing could replace that.

All I know right now is that I'm studying economics.
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Old 13th October 2016, 12:54 AM   #5
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Jammer25 thank you for pointing me to these sources. My problem is that I just can't keep track of myself when I go online looking for information. I have too many questions specific to my case and info on the web is mostly general. It would really be great if someone could understand my exact details and circumstances and offer input based on those specificities. Nothing could replace that.

All I know right now is that I'm studying economics.
That's a pipe dream, to be honest. You will likely not find any one person or resource that will hand you specific answers. Finding a good career path is often about adapting your pursuits from the guidance and insights that you do receive, and it's also good in finding out what you don't want to do in your field upfront rather than having to learn that in the future.
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Old 13th October 2016, 1:20 AM   #6
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Well, it's not a pipe dream to think I might have a conversation with someone experienced and knowledgeable who could give me half an hour of their time. It's much less complicated than you make it seem. I've seen threads the size of Russian novels about pretty trivial stuff.
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Old 13th October 2016, 1:42 AM   #7
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I don't want to -- can't afford to -- waste any more time. I need to make all the right decisions now. Unfortunately, I have no access to people who can give me advice from the viewpoint of an employer.
Hii.. I would suggest you don't waste too much time thinking about right decisions. Take a decision and make it right. Having access to people is great but you have to take baby steps on your own. Don't think much about whether it is the right website or not, s/he is right person or not. Take some start, you will find your way as you become more experienced.
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Old 13th October 2016, 1:57 AM   #8
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Good on you for going to university! You should be really proud of yourself for taking control of the direction of your life, even if you haven't figured it all out yet. You are heading in the right direction.

I can understand why you find this so daunting, but try not to let that get in your way. Fear will only hinder your progress.

Just to clarify, you enjoy economics but you just aren't sure where that will take you? If that is the case, your best bet is to research jobs that relate to economics. Once you have established what they are, look for companies that hire these types of skilled workers and find out if they have any work experience opportunities or internships.

This will help you begin to build your cv, as well as gaining knowledge, and potentially finding the type of job you will want after you graduate. This advice could apply to any avenue you want to explore as a major.

Other ways to improve your cv is to start volunteering and joining clubs at university. Push yourself to become involved. It will help build interpersonal relationship skills, networking skills and confidence. All of which will be essential in the workforce. Maybe even a part time job once a week just to get you started?

It is great that you have spoken with a career counselor but it is also worth talking to your professors for advice as well. Get all the advice and support you can through your degree. If there are seminars or events held by the faculty, go along, learn everything you can to help you decide what direction to go.

If you still aren't sure what to major in, look at other options. There is so many opportunities available if you are willing to look for them. You could even attend lectures for other subjects just to get a feel for it.

Most importantly, take care of yourself and your mental health. If you start to feel overwhelmed, ask for help.

Best of luck!
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Old 13th October 2016, 2:02 AM   #9
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Well, it's not a pipe dream to think I might have a conversation with someone experienced and knowledgeable who could give me half an hour of their time. It's much less complicated than you make it seem. I've seen threads the size of Russian novels about pretty trivial stuff.
I'm not saying that no one out there can help. I'm saying you won't find all of the answers you're looking for in one place. Gathering different perspectives is the best approach to finding what you like and don't like, what jobs you want to pursue, etc. It also allows you to cultivate your own mindset on what careers to pursue and how to piece together and interpret different sources of career info.
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Old 13th October 2016, 5:46 AM   #10
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Hey :)

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I find that career counsellors at university often know little more than I do.
I believe you will find most everyone will know little more than you do, for only you know where your life experiences have led you.

You appear to have believed there is something wrong with you for some time and have recently had a diagnosis of ADHD.

I can relate some of my experience. I had an unstructured career path until I arrived at University, I was like a puff of wind in a colander, not knowing which hole to come out of.

I was excepted on an applied computer course that set people up to solve problems caused by millennium bug, of course millennium bug never happened so I had a useless BSc that I am still paying for. I have never found work within the field. I had a piece of paper but no experience.

I believe you would do better finding out what personality type you are and becoming more aware of yourself. You would then be better able to assess what type of work you would like to apply yourself to.

I went through life believing there was something wrong with me, it turned out I was an Introvert in a society that is only interested in Extroverts. The odds were stacked against me, I couldn't fathom how to fit in and get on as I was easily eliminated by brasher personality types.

The types who succeeded over me were risk takers with shallow risk assessment capabilities who had good presentation and socialising skills. They often took projects and departments down uninspiring and pretty stupid routes. However they were popular.

Trying to get on in life was like rubbing my head on a grindstone, it hurt and didn't get me anywhere but depressed. This all went to convince myself there was something wrong with me.

I recently read a book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain and would recommend it.

Also anything by Elaine Aron, this may verify whether you are definitely ADHD or if you are a HSP [Highly Sensitive Person] who is prone to over-stimulation.

Finding out 'who' you are would better equip you to find out 'what' you are capable of doing successfully.

As for securing a job it is more down to your social skills and who you know rather than what you know. That is just a fact of life.
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Old 13th October 2016, 10:42 AM   #11
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There's a lot of careers that are "easy" to try, at least to see if you like the feel of them.
Spend a day trying to program, a whole honest, good day, that's what its going to feel like if you're working in the field.

Spend a day working at a CAD program, and trying to model or draw something simple, even if its just a cup, or a ball, or a box, and then move on to other, simple objects, watch youtube videos, learn.

Spend a week doing some trading on "pseudo" platforms, that mock real ones, to see if you're really interested in learning the market. Go ahead and try changing your own plumbing, or building your own table, for basic hands-on carpentry and plumbing skills.

Wire a 3 pole light switch, install a new floor transition, volunteer, you'll only find out what you like by doing it, honestly.
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Old 13th October 2016, 12:11 PM   #12
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Nowty V I will be in the same position, no work experience at all, unless I do co-op in which case I wouldn't graduate until 31. I'm looking to graduate by 30 max, so I don't know if I'm willing to do co-op. My first degree has already taken far too long.

My interests and the areas where I usually find inspiration and do very well are the humanities and social sciences, but I'm very skeptical about good job opportunities in these fields. I did a search for "historian" on a lot of databases and got zero results.

It's a very competitive market these days. My brother studied engineering and graduated with high honors, WITH co-op, and it took him almost a year to find a job... which wasn't in his field. I'm also nervous because I'm not going to a big-name school like the one he graduated from.

I'm trying to force myself to do a STEM degree although I have zero interest in math. The math in econ is very bearable, but econ is hardly a STEM field. I'd like to add a quantitative second major like math or stats or computer science to my econ.

I've been advised to at least minor in the humanities as a way to showcase my writing skills. I have excellent writing and research skills, my one strength. I can write publishable papers.

I don't really want to learn a trade. It would definitely make me very financially secure, but I've always imagined a future in research or development. When I earn higher degrees, I'll be more upwardly mobile, whereas a trade position seems lucrative but static.
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Old 13th October 2016, 12:17 PM   #13
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When you say economics, is it quite heavily Maths based like Microeconomics or is it more about theory like Macroeconomics courses tend to be?
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Old 13th October 2016, 12:28 PM   #14
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It's math based I think. In the econ program itself I have to take an equal number of microeconomics and macroeconomics courses, plus calculus, linear algebra, statistics and probability, and econometrics. If I took math as a double major there would also be courses like multivariable calc, real analysis, ordinary differential equations, and time series analysis.
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Old 13th October 2016, 5:41 PM   #15
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How about you stop thinking about what you need to do - and consider what you want to do? Thing is, once you start down the road to a career it's very difficult to change along the way - especially if you end up with kids dependent on your salary.

Whatever you do, make sure that it's something that in 20 years times you are still waking up and looking forward to.
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