Thursday, December 01, 2005

Career Confusion

Despite being enrolled in a professional degree program I love to say things like, "when I decide what I actually want to do with my life..."

I know it frustrates my classmates who can't understand my persistent doubt in our career and probably think I'm just taking some other dedicated veterinary student's place in our school.

My mom asked about it. She was confused. I guess she hasn't heard all my rumblings about my secret desire to just work at Bloomingdales for the last three years.

The real truth? I don't actually want to work at all. I can't really imagine that there's something out there that I'd want to do everyday, especially for more than a year at a time. Being a student with a life defined by three-week blocks has facilitated this career ADD. I know that there are plenty of jobs that I'd be good at, but right now the only thing I can think of that I want in life is to not live in a suburb and to have a real social life. Is that selfish? My classmates who are married make career decisions based upon their spouses (for their personal happiness, I presume) and that's accepted, but I suggest making a career decision based upon potential social life and I sense an element of scorn. I worry that the typical veterinary job is never going to provide the intellectual variety, work environment, or personal network that I'm hoping for.

So why am I applying for year long internships? Because I told myself I'd do this all the way and make sure that this either is or isn't right for me. So this one intense year is going to be the deciding factor. I'll be 26 when it's over. That's not too old to start all over again, right?


At 10:30 AM, December 01, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

*My* mom says I'm a professional dilettante. But she also says she's still not sure what *she* wants to be when she grows up. (She's currently 67.) I've done the "Bloomingdale's" thing. It's nice to take a brain/job stress sabbatical, but the pay scale really limits other activities, so you have to scramble to find a cheap, fun, mentally stimulating hobby that you're not too tired for after a day of schlepping stuff, and that fits in with your ever-changing retail schedule. Good for a year or two, but not a practical long term solution. Best to have a job that is more stimulating, less fatiguing, with options to shift responsibilities within the profession. The other thing I've noticed is that co-workers really make a difference. They've been more influential in job satisfaction for me than most specific job responsibilities. Don't put up with working with the crazy nasty people for too long. I mean, there's always *someone* who's not perfect- that's normal, but don't force yourself to deal with the truly psycho ones, even for what you think is a plum job. Good luck with it all! (D'90 who *still* is figuring out what to 'be'!)

At 3:16 PM, December 01, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there are very few people in this world who wake up and say, "Oh my gosh I get to go to work today! I'm so lucky!" No one I know does that. We all just get up and go to a job so we can pay the bills. If you can find something that you can tolerate and that you're reasonably good at, you should count yourself lucky. If it supports the lifestyle you want, you're really lucky. You say that you just want a social life - you can't have one of those without a job. Not working and still having a social life is basically impossible unless you're independently wealthy or have someone to support you.

Starting over is tough too - you still have to have a way to pay the bills.

At 9:45 PM, December 01, 2005, Blogger Anne said...

Hmmm, I don't think I like the pessimism of that last comment. Yes, I'll always have bills to pay, that's why even though I don't want to, I'll probably have a job. The trick is figuring out precisely what balance of sacrifices and benefits will make me happy.

The first comment, though... fantastic! The point about the importance of your co-workers and the personalities you interact with is quite valid. I do think it's possible to be excited to go to work because of the social aspects of interaction with your coworkers. At least, I know that on rare occasions I've been glad to escape my solitary existence with a solid 16 hour work day provided the company was right. Unfortunately, I fear that the female-dominated workplaces I'm sure to encounter might not meet that criteria. Nor do I find that most veterinarians have enough non-veterinary interests to pique my curiosity. Why is it that veterinarians often seem so one-sided? Or is it just the environment in which I meet them? Or the fact that the world of academia breeds that particular type of vet?

At 8:54 AM, December 02, 2005, Blogger Dr. Claw said...

I definitely got really lucky at the clinic where I work. Every day that I come in I'm happy - I may not see the most interesting cases every day (although I usually see something that gets me excited), but I have a blast hanging out with my coworkers both at the office and in a more social setting. I've never worked somewhere before where I'd go out to dinner and drinks with my coworkers, let alone have a fabulous time doing it.

So don't think it's impossible to find a place where you really fit in and enjoy yourself - it just takes a bit of trial and error.

At 10:46 PM, December 02, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I hope you know, you are definetely NOT the only one who doubts her career path. I do that every day, especially the last few when I've been mailing in those fun internship applications. And I too think about how it would be nice to not work. But then I think that I would be SO bored. Intellectual stimulation is far more important to me (and probably to you) than working in Bloomingdales. Although that would be a blast I am sure, I suspect that it wouldn't be something that you could do everyday either. I figure that while I still feel relatively clueless about my career path (within veterinary medicine and in general) I should give it a go and see how things go. Who knows, maybe after school, or even after a few more years of hard work, I can find what I am looking for (what is that again?). Lila

At 6:33 PM, December 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know exactly how you feel. Social life is pretty important to me as I firmly believe that you can't be really happy with your professional life if your personal life is not doing all that well and/or is non-existent. Vet school completely destroys your social life no matter where you go, but particularly if its in a bland suburb like Grafton. And that's what I blame it all on.

And the other thing I wanted to say was I am also afraid of how I will feel about vet med when I've been doing it everyday for over a year. I've come to realize that as students we tend to find that LEARNING the same material over and over again can be quite tedious and monotonous and I think we sometimes mistakenly project those feelings of boredom to DOING the same procedures over and over again. I think that is different. I truly believe that when you're an expert in a particular, specialized field like vet med, it is exciting to know that you go to work everyday carrying out procedures that very few people in the world get to do. And I think its even more exciting to be really good at it. Personally, I think I will really enjoy getting to know my clients and when they bring me their ill pets, being able to tell them what's wrong with them and how I can fix them. And no matter what type of a social scene I am a part of, I think my stories about the little old lady and her sick cat that I treated will be a lot more exciting than some of the stories my lawyer friends will have to share (who by the way have a superb social life and networking at their workplaces).

And no, I don't think 26 is too late to start all over again :)


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