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What do you tell a kid trying to decide what career path to choose

SufferSuffer 171 replies45 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 216 Junior Member
Feel free to give general advice as well but if you have any advice regarding this specific scenario, it would also be appreciated!

So I just finished my sophomore year of college so it is important I make the decision now because junior year is the most important year for both paths I'm interested in. I have narrowed down my options to medicine (physician) and finance (ib or private equity). I like both subject areas equally so I really want to choose the career path I can have success in, but I'm not sure where to start looking to figure this out.

I have concerns for both of them that are making the decision tough. There's probably more that I can't come up with right now

For medicine, I'm doing very well academically at a tough college but I'm always afraid I might burn out. Also interviews are important for medical school but for a bunch of student org board positions, I had an interview and I was rejected to all 3 I applied to (probably indicates that my interview skills suck but I did 0 preparation for those whereas for med school I'll probably prepare a lot).

For finance, I'm worried about job insecurity/bad job market and getting stuck at middle management (I'm told this becomes very depressing when you're older). I also don't know if my networking/negotiation/position climbing skills are good enough to be successful in the field.
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Replies to: What do you tell a kid trying to decide what career path to choose

  • happy1happy1 22407 replies2183 discussionsForum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 24,590 Forum Champion
    You are asking people to look into a crystal ball and try and predict the future of a person we never met. I think you have to go with your gut as to which career will make you happiest and most fulfilled.
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 12391 replies228 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 12,619 Senior Member
    Have you tried both? Shadowed doctors and IB folks?

    I'd do that, as well as attend whatever presentations your college does (my kid's has people from IB and medicine come speak at lunches and informally to students). See if there are alumni you can talk to and or shadow.
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  • blossomblossom 9591 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 9,600 Senior Member
    Finance is a very big field. You could work for state government developing bond issues and financing plans for road and infrastructure projects; you could work for a consumer products company figuring out how much an increase in the price of sugar impacts profitability next year; you could work for the UN figuring out the most cost effective way to use limited resources for a plan to eradicate malaria; and yes- you could work in banking.

    But even in banking- I could describe 10 different career paths to you. And if you add private equity, that adds another 5 paths.

    Every single career has ups and downs in terms of getting stuck in middle management. Yes, even in medicine. A friend of mine who was a part-owner of a large multi physician specialty got bought out by a big company. And despite the new company's promises- she is now stuck as an employee of a practice she used to own and manage, has very little autonomy in terms of what kinds of patients to see and how long to spend with them. She got her hands slapped for taking on a new patient who should have been seen by a different specialist in the group (not one better qualified to treat the patient, but one who gets a higher rate of reimbursement from insurance).

    Is she happy with this at the age of 55- allegedly the peak of her career? What do you think?

    You don't need to have your entire life figured out right now. Why is next year make or break for the rest of your life????
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  • MarianMarian 13159 replies83 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 13,242 Senior Member
    Why is next year make or break for the rest of your life????

    It's not make or break for the rest of anyone's life, but junior year is when prospective finance people apply for the summer internships that often turn into offers for permanent jobs after graduation. It's also when a lot of pre-meds take the MCAT (giving themselves enough time to retake it if necessary, just as kids do with the SAT). Both applying for internships and preparing for the MCAT are very time-consuming. A student would have a tough time doing both at the same time.
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  • thumper1thumper1 73024 replies3179 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,203 Senior Member
    You can major in finance, and take the prerequisite courses just in case you decide to apply to medical school.
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  • MarianMarian 13159 replies83 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 13,242 Senior Member
    edited May 2016
    You might find it very helpful to talk to a counselor at your college's career center. You're paying for this service. You may as well use it.
    edited May 2016
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 10000 replies199 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10,199 Senior Member
    edited May 2016
    The advice that is frequently offered to persons contemplating medicine as a career is this:

    If you can see yourself being happy doing something other than medicine--do that.

    Burn out and suicide among med students and physicians is a real issue. If you're already feeling burned-out as a college sophomore--maybe medicine isn't the right profession for you.

    BTW, interviewing skills can be practiced and improved. But it takes time and a willingness to accept criticism.
    edited May 2016
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  • wis75wis75 13852 replies62 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 13,914 Senior Member
    At this point your options are NOT physician and finance. You have not entered medical school. You may not get into a medical school despite strong grades et al. You need a college major- premedicine is an intention, not a major. You need to decide if health care or the business world suits you most. If finance you embrace that. If you think you want to become a physician you need a plan B. You need to know what you will do with the major you choose. Of course you can major in finance and still be premed. However I don't see you devoting time and energy attempting to get into medical school and also having the time and energy to find a finance job in addition.

    If you decide to go the premed route figure out which major most interests you and what you will do with it if not medical school.

    Physician here, btw- as is H. We used to tell people our (gifted) son was too smart to go into medicine. He did not- math major and added second major of computer science. He could have handled the coursework et al. But- we also could not see him wanting to go through medical school even with research as his ultimate goal. How do you want to interface with people? Do you want to deal with the gross, ugly, messy, horrendous eight or more years after college to have any time or money? WHY are you considering being a physician? Is it because of the prestige, steady job, money? What attracts you to finance? I know a great many physicians whose kids do NOT want to follow in their parent(s)' footsteps.

    You do not know the subject of "medicine". You may enjoy the associated sciences but medicine is different. You may want to consider other allied health fields- some also require years after college if your intent is to help people with medical problems. Being a research scientist is another path for those of us who enjoy sciences (my undergrad major was chemistry). If you choose a premed major du jour (biology in my time, now neuroscience seems to be popular) be prepared to figure out what to do with it other than being a physician.

    EVERY job can become depressing in middle age once you're an expert at what you do. Physicians have a lot of boring work, regardless of the specialty- once competent in your field and you've done X a hundred or a thousand times it is not intellectually stimulating. Likewise no matter how high you climb in the business world any novelty can wear off. Plus, no matter which profession you choose you will have to determine how much of your life is worth devoting to it instead of a social or family life. That is one reason so many settle at some point and no longer try to reach the pinnacle- it is not worth the personal lifestyle costs.

    There, said my piece. Do NOT count on getting into medical school. There are far too many qualified students vying for spots. Your competition will include those getting better grades at lesser colleges.

    If you enjoy the challenges of finance as you envision it, go for it. So far you have not told us compelling reasons you think being a physician is for you. Do NOT let family pressures influence you.
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  • mathmommathmom 31930 replies155 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 32,085 Senior Member
    I always felt that one advantage of medicine is that you know you are doing good in the world - banking not so much. I ended up in architecture because it seemed to combine all the things I liked to do - math,history, art. I'm interested in people and I like solving puzzles. It's been a surprisingly good fit.
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  • blossomblossom 9591 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 9,600 Senior Member
    Ask anyone in a country with a dysfunctional banking system, no transparency, and enormous political and economic corruption what they think about the American banking industry. You'd get a different picture about "doing good in the world". There are places in the world where children are starving while 50 miles away, tons of food sits rotting in a warehouse- the guy who owns three trucks can't get a small business loan to finance the fuel, payroll, etc. he needs to fulfill a contract to move the food from the warehouse to hungry customers 50 miles away. There are places in the world where women can't get a loan to buy a cow even when the revenue from the milk she'd sell to her neighbors would MORE than cover her payments, and provide her with weekly profit, and give her family an entree to a better life than subsistence farming.

    I am not a banker. And banks have done (and I'm sure will do) terrible things. But there are wonderful people who work in banking, and incredible institutions working hard to create stable financial markets and payment systems which are transforming people's lives.

    To the OP- still not convinced you need to chart your entire life right now. Not convinced you know enough about either finance or medicine to make a decision.
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  • compmomcompmom 10579 replies76 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10,655 Senior Member
    What actually interests you? You can major in anything that interests you at this point. Nothing you do now is written in stone. I think you are overplanning and I have read the interesting idea that overplanning interferes with opportunities. Have you visited the career center? Have you done any internships or volunteering? What classes do you actually enjoy?

    Also, many people have great lives while working in middle management. Exactly what is nightmarish about that for you?

    There are some good books out there about the business of medicine. I recently read one by a disillusioned cardiologist. Look into nursing, emergency medicine, physicians' assistant if health care interests you, or perhaps even policy.

    The above posters know far more than I do about these specific fields. I just hate to read about a young person with ambitions when already burned out. I hope you find some clarity but it can take years and right now you have college to enjoy..
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  • bopperbopper 13871 replies98 discussionsForum Champion CWRU Posts: 13,969 Forum Champion
    The first thing I would do is start volunteering at a nearby hospital. It will help you understand if you like working in the medical field. Also you need volunteer hours for your med school application.

    If you want to go to med school, there are things you have to do to prepare.
    You can major in anything (even economics!) but have to Take med school pre-reqs like Bio, Chem, Organic Chem, etc. as well
    So you need to figure out how to schedule all of your courses.

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  • MiamiDAPMiamiDAP 16183 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 16,184 Senior Member
    You did not list any ECs, you should have done some medical ECs by now if you consider medicine. Many start them in HS to see how they feel in medical setting as it is very different from other environments. Also, it is not clear what " I'm doing very well academically " mean. For medicine, it is important to have a college GPA of 3.6+, the closer to 4.0, the better. In regard to interviews, I would not worry too much, nobody prepares for them. The most common topic of my D's medical school interviews was her Music minor and her general interest in music. She was a bit disappointed, she likes challenges. Nonetheless, she was accepted to 4 med. schools after these interviews, into top 20s also!
    Your junior year is just another year if you are pre-med with one exception. Vast majority of pre-meds are taking the MCAT after spring finals of the Junior year. You have to prepare for it a lot. I mean several hours every day for many weeks. Since all pre-meds are exceptionally busy with all kind of medical ECs and other non-related ECs and maintaining very high GPA is very important and the classes are very tough in every single college, it is a good idea to have somewhat lighter academic schedule during junior year. It is advisable to drop down from 18-19 credits to 16-17 if possible, for example, to accommodate the preparation for the MCAT. I said "if possible", because if you have planned for pre-med, you should have had a heavier academic load in the first 2 years of college. There is an additional reason for that. Seniors are usually busy with medical school interviews. They have to deal with schedule adjustments, not only academically, but also in their jobs, internships and other responsibilities. The lighter academic schedule facilitates adjustments, like re-scheduling of tests / exams.... etc.
    The above points are in addition to normal requirements for medical school pre-reqs that I assumed are at least half way covered by you by now.
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  • brantlybrantly 3689 replies66 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,755 Senior Member
    You are getting WAY too far into the weeds of these careers at this point in your life. You can't predict whether you will feel burned out or "depressed" in middle management. It's ridiculous to even think of that at age 20. Life is a journey. You have ZERO idea where the job market will be and what type of opportunities will or will not be available during your lifetime. The biggest mistake a young person can make is to think that right now is "the end of history"—that the way things are now is the way they will be in 10, 20, 40 years from now. It is not.

    Just go with your gut. By the way, if you go to medical school, you can still work in the finance industry. Plenty of doctors do. And they make A LOT of money. So you are not closing yourself off to that industry if you go to medical school.
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  • ordinarylivesordinarylives 3152 replies43 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,195 Senior Member
    The best career advice I ever received (and this was after I graduated from college) came in the form of a question. If money weren't a concern, what would you do? My answer was go to school forever. Obviously, that's wasn't a viable career path, but it did help me decide to go back to school and pursue a career in higher Ed. In essence, I've been in school my whole career!

    So, stop asking yourself to choose between finance and medicine and start asking yourself what you'd like to do. the answer may well be "neither."
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