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Career switching move

A colleague just resign today and decide to go to medical school. I only got half of the fact when I heard the news, , I thought he is already accepted by medical school so I went to congratulate him. It turns out he is making a very bold move. He has to study full time for a year to make up some undergrad biology credits before he can even apply for medical schools. He is smart and young, I think he could make the jump from being an engineer to a doctor. However, forgo one year of salary to prepare for application, then spent 5 years studying and many more years further education on specialty practices is a huge investment. I wish him good luck, but I also asked him, touch wood, what if he couldn’t get into a medical school. He said the plan B is come back to PMC and continue to work as an engineer.

Nowadays, no one has life time employment. Switching job is very common, but usually people switch within related industries. Switching career is a lot harder. You have to give up the experience you have accumulate all those years and start from scratch. Unless you really hate your first career or you have great passion for your new career, it is always a though decision to change career. I have friends who tried to move away from engineering but with bad luck end up staying go back to the same place where they starts.

One day, when I am bored being an engineer, I want to back to school to get a philosophy Ph.D. and then be a philosophy professor in university or community college for living. The only problem between me and my dream career is that I can’t afford to let go my salary for a few years to study something that is absolutely useless and does not yield handsome return in the future. Maybe I should be more realistic, study a MBA instead.

5 comments to Career switching move

  • Good to see you write something new (ah, those copy & paste Economist articles don’t count. plus you can link to the article instead of pasting the whole thing 🙂

    Good luck to your colleague! Med school is not easy to get into. But then one, if we can afford to, has to pursue something we have a passion for.

    Your colleague and you may find the following Q&A between a business school student and Gates and Buffett interesting.

    *************

    QUESTION: Hi. My name is Katrina Gankena, and I was born in Russia. And I’m a second-year student at Columbia Business School. My question is for Mr. Gates. What industry do you think is going to produce the next Bill Gates? Because that’s the industry I want to get a job in. [LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE]

    GATES: Industries do have different paces of innovation. So the IT industry, driven by the magic of software, the magic of the optic fiber, magic of the chip which doubles in power every couple of years, it’s been the industry that has not only been the most exciting, it’s also changed the rules for many other industries. The idea of information being available, what the online world is like, that’s incredible. I’ll tell you, there are a few other industries that will compete for being exciting in the decades ahead. The energy business, some approach will provide cheaper energy that’s environmentally friendly. And there’s a lot of science, a lot of business. That’s a global thing. There will be some great careers there. Medicine, you know. We haven’t solved Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s or about 20 diseases of these poor countries, and yet we can be sure that we’re on track to do that. And so those three industries I think you would do great in. There’s many others, but those are the ones that have the strongest appeal to me.

    BUFFETT: Find what turns you on. Find what you have a passion for. If somebody said to me when I was getting out of Columbia, you know, that Bill’s business was going to be the one that would be exciting, you know, I don’t think I’d have done so well. [LAUGHTER] But I knew what turned me on. I had a professor, Ben Graham, I offered to go to work for him for nothing. He said, “You’re overpriced.” Nonetheless, I went into the business. [APPLAUSE] I will guarantee, you will do well at whatever turns you on. There’s no question about that. Don’t let anybody else tell you what to do. You figure out what you are doing. [APPLAUSE]

    • Ar. I am so busy with home renovation. It takes up most of free time.

      Economist is restricting read access to some of its articles. It is easier to make a copy and store locally. You never know when the link is broken when you want to refer to the article.

  • yeah now that the economist is putting up the bloody pay wall again, they should be thanking you for keeping their content alive and available in the wide world of interwebs……

    having switched careers at least 2ice in the last few years, my experience is that every jump feels nerve wrecking, but once you get over the first bump then you will start seeing things in a different light. in your case though, can’t you study part time? or take up a paying teaching position once you start your phd?

    • I am studying part-time. The only good thing about philosophy, unlike engineering, is the research won’t go date if you don’t finish your thesis soon.

      Moreover, I don’t think teaching philosophy can earn more than working as an engineer. I don’t love philosophy so much to give up a good living. It is just one of my hobbies.

  • >> … I don’t love philosophy so much to give up a good living. It is just one of my hobbies.

    I agree. I like painting but I won’t be rich unless I die (assuming there will be buyers a few hundred years from now)!!!

    I did switch fields many times, from chemical engineering, to science and technology research, international technology transfer, policy-making and implementation, human resources, etc.

    It is good for most ppl to diversify and become more marketable – as long as the new experience is solid and not superficial.

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