It was challenging to know what I wanted to work on or for. I had almost no understanding of what people of different professions do daily. In general, economists calculate something; doctors treat; mathematicians calculate(after economists?), and lawyers deal with the law somehow.
Hint: you may find actionable advice at the end of this article.
I missed the details: what exactly do economists and mathematicians calculate? How do musicians and actors make money? Is it interesting to be an engineer or designer? How to know the answers to these questions when you don't have much experience?
Lack of knowledge
Many students don't know how they want their life to look. And if they do, their plan will probably change in the future. The same applies to adults. Our goals change. The things I enjoyed ten years ago today may not be so enjoyable because I find new things to want more.
The problem(when choosing something now) is that our desires change when we change. And the latter happens constantly.
The students' problem when pondering "what profession should I choose" is that they don't have much data about how they, society, and the world function. I don't know many things, but the information I collected through the years, career, communication with people, and books helped me better understand what I want and where I want to be in the next few years.
It starts with the most meaningful question
What do I want to do in life? "I enjoy eating, playing games, and watching movies, but that won't make me money" - I thought. So I should get a job somewhen. And for this, I need to go to college or university(do I?). But why do I need money? To live, in general: get food, have a place to live, and if something is left, I may spend the rest on something I enjoy.
So I have things I enjoy doing, and I should have a job that pays the bills. Maybe I may combine the two? So now I have a plan:
- Get a job that pays the bills.
- Enjoy things I like doing.
Getting a job that pays the bills
Many people get this step wrong: they study at a university or college to get a waiter's-like job. Some of them pay a lot for such an education. Then, they pay the debt by working a waiter's-like job (while in and) after the university.
Many jobs on the market require a human's basics: eyes, mouth, and ability to speak. Then, some jobs require more domain knowledge. But, still, one doesn't need to study for five years for them. And some jobs require you the fundamentals and domain knowledge - doctors, for example.
So if I didn't know what I wanted to do, I'd find some entry-level job that could pay me for rent and food. From there, I might research the market and myself better.
If I enjoy programming, I can learn it for free and get a job. On the other hand, if I tried this path and didn't like it, I may try copywriting and see how it goes.
If I didn't know what job I might take, I'd go to a jobs aggregator website and scan all the job postings I see there. It gives me an overview of the current market needs. For example, I know that a YouTube blogger will pay me to edit their videos - now I know how much money I may be paid for such a job. Or, I know that a restaurant owner will pay $Y per hour if I bring food from the kitchen to customers' tables.
When choosing a skills direction first, for example, I want to be a singer, I study first, then look at the market needs and don't understand what the world may pay me.
If I did the market research first, it's an excellent way to go: I know what skills I need and study them.
If I don't care about money (because I know I can find any entry-level job anytime) and want to pursue the things I enjoy(e.g., singing), it's also a good approach - in this case, though, I flip the priorities order. I choose the things I enjoy(singing) over the money to pay rent or food.
As a conclusion
- People constantly change as well as their needs, ambitions, and desires.
- If a young person tries to understand what they want to do, it's more difficult because of a lack of knowledge.
- The world is constantly changing.
Combining these three facets and the answer to what to do in life becomes even more complicated.
For young people trying to understand what skills they should learn or what profession they should choose:
- Determine if there's an activity you enjoy doing and want to be paid for. I.e., if it's possible to combine a job and the things you enjoy doing.
- Research the [job] market: how much may it pay for this kind of job? What skills does one need to get it? What is the best way to get the skills - university, online courses, books, etc.?
- If you don't know what you enjoy or at least what you can do for money: find a balance between the money the market gives a person for a particular job and the time one needs to learn the skills for it. For example, if you already know two languages, you may become a translator without learning additional skills. If you want to be paid more than a translator(in this example), and you know that a copywriter may earn 60% more, and you need a month to learn(or improve) your skills, it's worth switching to the latter if you like doing that of course.