Career paths are highly individualized processes. Just like individuals are unique, so are career paths. Talk to five people who are in the same profession. You’ll hear five different stories about how they got to where they are today. Especially in 2012. This is great news, right? What it means is that just because you might not have gotten your MBA does not mean you can’t open a business.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to get a specific degree to do the job you want. Obviously, yes, if you want to be a doctor, lawyer, or teacher, for example, you do need to go through the proper channels.
But there can even be variation if you chose a profession that requires a degree or certification. Teaching is one of those professions that has a pretty set path. You have to get your certification which can be done in one of two ways in New Jersey (and I think other states are similar). You can either get a certificate with an education degree in college or you can do what’s called Alternate Route. But not everybody becomes a teacher right out of college.
Years ago, when I was studying for the GREs I took the Princeton Review. My instructor was an elementary school teacher who had been an accountant prior to becoming a teacher.
An old co-worker of mine from Small World Coffee went back to finish his undergraduate degree when he was 30. Now he’s in law school. While he is going through a pretty set route now, he certainly did not take the average route to law school.
Out of the 40 interviews I’ve done, the most “textbook” path is Jessica Wong, the teacher. She went into teaching right after graduating from college and has been teaching ever since. But I’m finding more often than not, people create their own way.
I think we’re often tricked into thinking that if we want to work in a certain profession that we need to take very specific steps to get there, and that there is a very specific timeline that we have to follow.
Maybe the route to becoming a doctor is pretty cut and dry. But most people aren’t doctors.
The point is, if you’re just entering the career-world, allow yourself to find your own way. Contrary to what colleges and media and society might have you believe, there’s no one right way to make a career.
Want to share your ideas about career paths? Leave a comment!