What career to choose

Keith Shank was born in 1985 and grew up in Lake Worth, Florida. Keith participated in the Boy Scouts, a high school production of Footloose and his high school Choral group until graduating high school. Keith joined the United States Navy where he operated nuclear reactors as an electronics technician. After exiting the Navy Keith went to FAU and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. Keith now works as a Mechanical Engineer within Logistics at a defense company.

There are only a small percentage of people who know early in their lives what they’re going to be when they grow up. Some of them are inspired and others are pressured. But if you’re like most people you don’t really know. It’s such a huge decision. Deciding can be daunting at best.
The cliche is to “follow your dreams” so we’ll start there. Choose a job or a field that makes you happy or at least holds your attention. The next step is investigating that job or field to evaluate your choice.
I have been asked several times to give advice to someone who’s considering joining the military. My advice for that person is along the same lines as choosing a non-military job or field.
Satisfaction in the military boils down to three components:
1. What one makes of their situation
2. The people in charge
3. Your job
The good news is you have full control of what you make of the situation and partial control over the job you get when joining. The bad news is you’ll have very little, if any, control over the people in charge. To ensure that your potential job isn’t terrible I recommend getting in contact with at least twenty people via email, phone or in person before signing any paperwork for that job. The recruiter might be able to get you a few people who will sugar coat it but not twenty. Once you talk to at least twenty people and still want to join as that job, the rest is what you make of it. The scariest part about choosing a job in the military is you won’t be sure it’s for you until you do it.
Choosing your profession in the civilian world is great because you can participate in an internship. I highly recommend this. I cannot stress how helpful it is for making a life changing decision than to test it out with little risk in doing so.
So if you’re trying to choose a field or figure out if a specific job within a field is right for you some interviewing and participation will be necessary.
Many people love hearing the sound of their own voice so why not take advantage of it? Whether it’s to talk about how great or horrible it is they’re dying to tell you. Even if you’re dead-set on something already you still have to figure or WHERE you want to perform that job. Even if they’re not hiring or they don’t have any internship positions available they might still give you a tour. If you like what you see you can ask to volunteer to get your foot in the door or get some experience.

All that being said, I still have one caveat to mention: is your choice pragmatic? Can you make money at it? Money’s not everything but it sure does make life easier. I’m fortunate enough to be interested in many things.
I’m interested in drama, singing, dancing, engineering, physics, math, networking, so on and so forth. I would be perfectly content being an actor or a singer but instead I’m an engineer. I didn’t choose acting because I’ve never heard of a “starving engineer.” I’m an engineer but that doesn’t mean I can’t do acting or singing on the side. Moral of the story is: following your dreams down the drain may feel like the right thing to do but it doesn’t feel as good as paying your rent every month.
Just because your passion or dream probably won’t bring you wealth beyond your wildest dreams doesn’t mean you should abandon it either. If it makes you happy, why would you let some article tell you otherwise? I’m simply saying that you need to have more than one route to success.
Here’s a terrifying thought: what if you go through all the effort required to be in a field or job and end up hating it? If you do nothing and swallow the lump in your throat that is entry level employment you’ll take home entry level pay. But if you put forth effort towards a job or field above entry level one should, in theory, make greater than entry level pay. Which is a better situation? Hating your job for more money or hating your job for less money? Which one better supports changing jobs/fields?
Changing your job or field is the worst case scenario and should be no less rigorous a choice as the last one. If you don’t feel like changing jobs or fields one should, in theory, be able to change the theatre of their job or move to a similar job within that same field.
In summary: Choose a field/job based on something that makes you happy or holds your attention. Once your field/job is chosen you must interview people and participate in it to find out if your choice was wise. If you’ve already made a choice you still need to interview people at different locations to find the best place to perform that job. You probably won’t get a dream job making goo-gobs of money and that’s okay you can pursue it in parallel to what makes you money. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. If something’s not working out, change it.

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