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#292815 - 06/24/09 09:13 AM What Do You Do...
Clockwise Offline

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 304
Loc: Pennsylvania
What do you do when you don't know what to do? Most high school sudents have a clue as to what they want to be when they grow up. When they're in college I figure most of them have a better idea and start to pursue it. Myself? I haven't a clue. I'll be a junior in college this year majoring in criminal justice and I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. I wanted to be an accountant but totally bombed in my math classes so I switched to a major that didn't have any math classes, but I'm still confused.

In general, I want what most people want: to have a family, to have money and such. I don't want to be married but I do want to adopt kids. I don't have to be rich but I don't want to struggle like my parents did. I don't want to have to worry about how the light bill will get paid or have to eat leftovers for over a week like we've done in the past. I want to be secure and comfortable instead of always on edge with money.

Still, that's not much info to go on. My T told me that I didn't have to have my whole life planned out and that most people don't even get a career in their major. I know that but it still leaves me in the dark. I don't know what I want to be or who or where I want to be. I want to live my life to the fullest and be happy but how? I want to live for today but I can't stop thinking about tomorrow and what it will bring. This is one of the things that keeps me up at night and the reason why I'm typing this at 5 in the morning.

Geez, this is hard. I want to make myself happy but I don't want to waist time in a dead-end career. Is it even possible to plan your life or do you just fall into whatever you fall into? Any advice guys?


Yet another 24 hours.

#292834 - 06/24/09 02:32 PM Re: What Do You Do... [Re: Clockwise]
Trucker51 Offline

Registered: 05/21/08
Posts: 2826
Loc: Denver, CO
Have you taken any kind of career-aptitude testing where you go to school? Cleveland State University offers a computerized career-aptitude test through their co-operative education office. I was great at math with numbers and terrible at math with letters. The result of my test showed that I might be good at several things, but civil engineering had lots of math, and I found my intro to sociology boring, so I stayed with Urban Planning, which involves a lot less math. Then I did well in both macro- and micro-economics, especially macro-, so later on I decided to minor in economics too.

Here in the Denver-area an entry-level urban planner earns about $40K to start, then averages around $50K with 5 years of experience in the field. Senior urban planners employed by most counties and major urban suburbs in this area can earn $60-$75K annually, and senior large city planning officials can earn a bit more than that. Planners are often hired by cities, special districts, counties, at both the State and Federal level, and by civil engineering companies too. The field of urban planning as it is taught here in Denver at Metro State College now includes quite a bit of environmental land-use planning and GIS mapping with the planning curriculum, and at Metro State the undergrad degree is a Bachelor of Science rather than an Arts degree. Here in Denver, Metro State and the University of Colorado, Denver are on the same campus and UCD offers a Master's degree in urban planning as well as an undergrad minor too.

Generally Business grads do pretty well though there is somewhat more math involved in the curriculum than in urban planning. Many business grads end-up working for banks and investment brokerage firms, and others start their own businesses. There is much less risk working for someone else, but less reward if you are successful too. I have a friend who started with a carpet-installation business in Ohio who now owns a BBQ joint, a golf driving range with a 9-hole par-3 golf course, a snowmobile and ATV dealership, and a camping resort in Florida, and he still has his carpet business too. He has moved up from a 3 bedroom ranch that he bought for $79K in 1981 to a $500K house on 12 acres. But for every success story like Rick there are 100 stories of failure or of businesses that don't make the owner rich too. Even Rick had an unsuccessful satellite-dish business at one time too.

Do you have any skills from your work experience to date that might translate into a career path? You worked in a grocery store so would grocery or retail management be a field that might interest you? Grocery management jobs generally pay a little less but as a career grocery management is a fairly secure career. You would need a management degree to move in that direction though.

A criminal justice degree by itself might lead to a position as a cop or as a corrections department manager. Both are fairly secure careers but are often underpaid with some inherent risks involved often for unappreciative customers. It might also lead into some jobs in public administration though there is generally a separate degree field for public admin. It might be best while you have the chance to take some courses from this field to complement your degree to give you a wider range of employment possibility once you graduate.

My one grandfather started with one truck back in the 1920s and moved-up to owning a medium-sized truckline by the 1950s. He also taught me to drive on his farm when I was still in grade school. As a result I now have 30 years of experience in the trucking industry but because of some degradation of vision in my left eye I can't pass the medical requirements for driving now. So it is back to school for me to try to finish my urban planning degree, with maybe some transportation management courses thrown-in for good luck. I could likely move pretty easily into trucking management or safety, but who wants that headache???

Getting a degree opens a lot of doors for you. There are plenty of governmental management jobs that are pretty secure that a public admin degree or a criminal justice degree would open up to you, and you might find yourself working in private-sector management with either of these degrees too. Why don't you see if your school offers some kind of career-aptitude testing to show you what employment field that you might be good at. I will agree that having such a wide range of choices is kind of a daunting challenge if you don't know what you want to be.

Yes, you can try to plan towards a career and move in that direction. Economic circumstance at present dictates that we should prepare ourselves for as wide a range of careers as is possible. Criminal justice may be too narrow a field unless you are planning to move towards pre-law. Are you hoping to become an attorney? If you are hoping to move from a 4-year degree straight into a career I might suggest some public admin or management courses too, if not a change of major. A lot of the lower-level coursework is the same so likely you wouldn't lose anything if you changed toward either of these directions.

I have two longtime friends who are brothers. Children of divorce, in high school they were pretty much among the least-likely to succeed crowd. One of them is now a Doctor of Medicine and heads a cardiac research unit at the University of West Virginia and the younger brother after struggling for 10 years went back to school and is now a development attorney in Detroit. So anything is possible if you can find a field that challenges you to succeed, I guess.

Take a career skills test so that you will have some idea of which direction to head in. Just keep working toward the goal of a degree and try to worry less about career direction at this point. Try to widen your field of study to include more potential career opportunity. Quite a few grads end-up working in fields that they didn't initially plan on. Hope that you can find a career field that you find the security that you are looking for that will be an enjoyable field at the same time.

Now is not the time to worry.


"We stay here, we die here. We've got to keep moving". Trucker Mark


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