Author Topic: Life Advice for a 20 year old with no idea what to do about college and careers  (Read 4931 times)

kaleidoscopicalkris

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 52
Hey, guys! I've lurked on the forums before, but this is my first post, so let me know if I need to do something differently or edit this for clarity.

Some background: I have taken approximately 3 semesters worth of classes from ASU, originally for a Chemical Engineering degree and then for a BS in Mathematics. Neither has worked out well, so I'm looking to change my major again but have no idea to what. I don't particularly have a dream job, but I know I don't want to be traveling too much due to my SO's wishes and would like to end up in a career where I could RE without too much trouble. I'm generally a quick learner and am willing to put in the work necessary to finish things properly. I'm currently working full-time as a clinic assistant in a physical therapy office and going to ASU full-time as well.

At this point, I feel like a University degree may not be the best fit for me, but I'm not particularly sure where to go from here. I have enough credits done that I could get an Accounting BS without too much backtracking, but the travel requirements for entry-level positions seem more extensive than I'm willing to commit to.

Should I take a semester off and take the time to explore my options? Switch to a community college and cut my losses? Just buckle down and get the accounting degree? Or a different degree? I haven't taken out any student loans- my parents are fronting the money, but I am expected to pay them back once I'm solidly employed.

Any advice is appreciated.

rubybeth

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1402
  • Location: Midwest
I am curious why chemical engineering and mathematics didn't work out. That might change my answer. But basically it sounds like you are young and just need more life experience. I also think it sucks that we ask 18-year-olds to somehow know what kind of career they'd want for the rest of their lives. I chose an English major at age 18. :)

I think taking time off and trying some different jobs might be a good way for you to figure out what your aspirations are before going back for more classes. Personally, I went back to school at age 25 for a masters degree, and things worked out, but I had quite a few years with part time jobs and not being totally sure of what I wanted to do; that's normal.

Does your school offer a career counseling session?

kaleidoscopicalkris

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 52
ChemE and Mathematics were both too high-stress and low-reward for me- I couldn't see myself being even remotely happy or satisfied with the career options available to me with either of them.

The school does offer career counseling, but it's by college- when I was transferring out of ChemE, the counselor there was pretty dedicated to keeping me within the engineering college even though I'd made it clear that wasn't what I wanted, which is why I ended up in Math- I had to make a to make a split second decision to even get out of engineering.

I really like my current job- it's low-stress, but I'm still learning a variety of useful skills for both business and medical fields in the future if that's what I end up wanting to do.

AgentCooper

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 69
This online test gave me and my wife some really interesting feedback.  My friends/co-workers think I'm super-analytical, but according to my quiz answers, I coulda/woulda/shoulda been in something creative, like operating a movie camera.  And for my wife, one of her top 3 perfect jobs would have been the exact job she turned down a few years ago!  Good luck.

Maybe read the MMM classic recommendation, Your Money or Your Life.  Helped me separate out Life's Work Vs. What I Do to Earn Money.

https://www.mynextmove.org/explore/ip

urbanista

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 223
  • Location: Australia
I have a degree in Accounting and currently finishing a masters degree in mathematics while working full-time already in data analytics/data science where my maths degree is in high demand.

I find that Accounting is high stress (reporting deadlines are absolute) while analytics is very low-stress and flexible. I work 7.5 hour days with flexible hours and have maybe 1 or 2 production deadlines a year. And even those deadlines are 'soft' i.e. negotiable.

In my view, degree in mathematics is perfect for a wide range of future careers, provided you take several statistics classes also learn computer programming.


jasminegeekface

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 43
I'm only 22 myself so I don't exactly have much advice to offer, but I thought I'd butt in here to tell you that you're not alone in this :). I graduated with a BS in Physics last year and I've been at my job for a year, and I still don't know what the heck I'm doing with my life. This job hasn't been a great fit and I go up and down between being grateful I even have a job and being completely disillusioned. So far I haven't been able to figure out what I really want to be doing, just that this isn't it...

Not sure what my point was in posting this, except that I understand what you're going through, I think it's normal, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll stumble into more clarity eventually.

Fishindude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2107
What do you like to do?
What type of work interests you?

Don't overlook working in a trade or as a technician of some sort with your hands.
Many industries are starving for smart young folks willing to work hard, and there are jobs like that right in your back yard.

andy85

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1071
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Louisville, KY
So you want low stress, no travel, and great pay? If you find that then let me know...

But in all seriousness...you may need to adjust your expectations. If i were your age again with doubts about college I'd take up a trade and use it in some extreme environment to make bank for 10 years max. (oil rigs, cargo ships, etc)...i feel like if you are looking for a high salary then its either going to have to be a fair amount of formal education in a technical field or a fair amount of travel. Best of luck OP.

BeardedLady

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 87
This online test gave me and my wife some really interesting feedback.  My friends/co-workers think I'm super-analytical, but according to my quiz answers, I coulda/woulda/shoulda been in something creative, like operating a movie camera.  And for my wife, one of her top 3 perfect jobs would have been the exact job she turned down a few years ago!  Good luck.

Maybe read the MMM classic recommendation, Your Money or Your Life.  Helped me separate out Life's Work Vs. What I Do to Earn Money.

https://www.mynextmove.org/explore/ip

Wow! I just took this test, and everything I wanted to be as a kid showed up: animator, architect, set designer, photographer...everything but astronaut. Guess that's out. Looks like I found what I will do once I RE from my current job.

katesilvergirl

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 45
I work in higher ed research and write a lot of reports about the market demand for different majors and fields. So let me just say - ALLIED HEALTH IS SO HOT RIGHT NOW. If you are interested in ANY allied health field (anything healthcare except doctor, pharmacist, or dentist) then that could be a great way to go. They are in very high demand and generally pay well, especially the mid-level jobs. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and physician's assistants are all very high paying jobs with only a two-year master's. And since all those jobs want people with experience, your current job would likely get your foot WAY in the door when you are ready to apply for a master's.

If you aren't interested in medicine or healthcare, then data analytics is also really in demand (especially in the business sector).

It sounds like you are looking at your career fairly analytically and trying hard to figure out what you want and what will help you achieve your goals. This is very good and already puts you ahead of most college students. I'm not sure taking time off would add any more clarity, unless you had something specific you wanted to pursue. Finishing your bachelor's as soon as you can may be a good option, and you can explore different careers as you go. Accounting gives you a really solid base to go into a lot of fields (business/MBA, public administration, financial planning, finance) and is certainly not a bad place to start.

Lady Fordragon

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 172
  • Location: Midwest
I work for the federal gov't as a science and technology program manager (degree's in electrical engineering).  The job for the most part is low-stress for (what I consider) great pay since I live in a LCOL area.  I do travel a bit for work, but that's entirely my choice. 

Even though I got a degree in EE, I have since discovered that this is not my passion; however, it pays well and opens the door for other opportunities.  It's definitely my means to reaching FIRE.

Good luck with your decision!

kaleidoscopicalkris

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 52
Stress-wise, I was more referring to school- working full time + school full time is going to be difficult in any STEM field, and I know that. I'm willing to be in a high-stress career since that would be something I could (hopefully) leave at work.

I'm definitely planning on getting the certificate in business data analytics, no matter what- it's only 6 classes required, and I'm already working on one of them and can do it entirely online if I so choose.

urbanista- Do you have any specific classes you would suggest for the Math major to pair well with the data analytics certificate? If not, that's cool- I figured I would just ask.

tomorrowsomewherenew

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 122
  • Location: Florida
If you're thinking a university degree isn't the route for you, is there any chance you'd be interested in the military? I'd suggest avoiding the Marines and Army unless you like sleeping in a mud-hole, but the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard could all be good routes.

Since you don't have a degree, your only option would be going enlisted. However, given your background, I'm sure you would have great ASVAB scores and would get your pick of jobs (and often very sizable bonuses). Even if you're not sure you're interested, I would recommend taking the test and see what they've got available at the moment. It can't hurt--especially if substantial worldwide travel sounds appealing.

Frugal D

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 223
  • Age: 33
Definitely pursue the Mathematics degree. It will get you entry into so many different lucrative career fields.

The stress aspect can't be a factor. If you're not willing to work hard now, you can't ever expect to RE. 

Capt Stubble

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Age: 58
  • Location: US
Hey, guys! I've lurked on the forums before, but this is my first post, so let me know if I need to do something differently or edit this for clarity.

Some background: I have taken approximately 3 semesters worth of classes from ASU, originally for a Chemical Engineering degree and then for a BS in Mathematics. Neither has worked out well, so I'm looking to change my major again but have no idea to what. I don't particularly have a dream job, but I know I don't want to be traveling too much due to my SO's wishes and would like to end up in a career where I could RE without too much trouble. I'm generally a quick learner and am willing to put in the work necessary to finish things properly. I'm currently working full-time as a clinic assistant in a physical therapy office and going to ASU full-time as well.

At this point, I feel like a University degree may not be the best fit for me, but I'm not particularly sure where to go from here. I have enough credits done that I could get an Accounting BS without too much backtracking, but the travel requirements for entry-level positions seem more extensive than I'm willing to commit to.

Should I take a semester off and take the time to explore my options? Switch to a community college and cut my losses? Just buckle down and get the accounting degree? Or a different degree? I haven't taken out any student loans- my parents are fronting the money, but I am expected to pay them back once I'm solidly employed.

Any advice is appreciated.

You don't have a problem with the travel but your SO does? Are you sure this will be your SO for the long haul? I don't really have much advise for you, but this kind of stood out to me.


kaleidoscopicalkris

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 52
Capt Stubble- yes, my SO and I are planning on eventually getting married. We've been together for three years now and everything is still going well. That being said, I should talk to her about the travel again- she said she didn't want me to be traveling a lot when we were talking about how miserable my dad is in his current job with 30+ weeks of travel a year. It may be different before the eventual children come along- I'll talk to her and see. Thanks for making me think about that a bit more :)

Frugal D- Thanks for your input. Thinking about it more, I think I might have just panicked about the Mathematics degree in a moment of anxiety/depression overload. Looking at it more, pairing it with the data analytics certificate is seeming more and more like the way to go.

Imonaboat

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 44
  • Location: Southeast Texas
If it was easy than everyone would do it. If everyone did it, then it would have no value. That's why offshore RoV drivers/mechanics make $12 an hour while offshore hydraulic mechanics make $80, dealing with the same circuits and troubleshooting techniques. The easy and/or cool factor of a job will cost you in returns.

From my experience though, most engineers I work with have very relaxed and rewarding positions. Do a few more years of work now and kick back for the rest of your life, or kick back and relax now and work the rest of your life.

Trifele

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2369
  • Location: US
It sounds to me like you are in a really good place job-wise right now.  Health care is a huge, multi-faceted field with lots of opportunities.  Learning about how a health care practice works from the inside is A+ experience.  I work in health care and my clients struggle to recruit practice managers, compliance officers, and coders/medical records professionals.  The business side of health care is hot.  A math degree would pair well with it (one of my clients -- the practice manager of a large private practice -- has a math degree).  Accounting and business degrees also pair well. The most important things though are (1) experience in a health care setting, and (2) people skills.   Good luck!!

urbanista

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 223
  • Location: Australia

urbanista- Do you have any specific classes you would suggest for the Math major to pair well with the data analytics certificate? If not, that's cool- I figured I would just ask.

Statistical inference and probability theory.
Computer programming in Python (or R). Python is the general purpose language, it will serve you well in any type of analytics job.

urbanista

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 223
  • Location: Australia
Do a few more years of work now and kick back for the rest of your life, or kick back and relax now and work the rest of your life.

Yep. It takes many years to train a good Data Scientist. The majority don't survive and switch degrees.