Mon | Sep 24, 2018

Should I follow the urge to switch careers?

Published:Sunday | May 17, 2015 | 12:00 AMGlenford Smith


I have always been an avid reader of your advice column and I must say that you are doing an excellent job. I never thought I'd be writing to you since I always believed I knew my career path, namely, Accounting, which I'm majoring in at UWI. However, of late, I've been getting an urge to do a teaching degree, specifically in English or mathematics at the secondary level. This urge is taking a toll on my life as I'm always thinking and dreaming about it. However, I am unsure and I would appreciate your advice.

- Rushelle

CAREERS: Thank you for reading the Gleaner Careers column, Rushelle. I'm pleased you find it to be excellent. I'm also happy you chose to write about your current career dilemma.

It's highly unusual for young persons, generally, to know with absolute certainty, what career path they should follow, while at high school, or even university.

For most young persons, the process involves some degree of trial and error, often over years. They usually choose a career they think they will like, one their parents want them to pursue, or that they believe will make them 'marketable'. Then, as they gain experience and self-knowledge, it becomes clearer to them, what career to settle on.

None of the approaches mentioned, is inherently better than the others. Without understanding this, you can spend agonising days, weeks and months vacillating, out of fear of making a mistake.

You didn't mention what might have triggered this urge to switch to teaching. Neither did you clarify whether, concomitant with this new yearning, there has been a lessening of your passion for accounting. It's important to clarify these two issues. Here's why.

Feelings are an important factor in making decisions, generally. However, we have to take more than strong urges into consideration in situations such as choosing a career. That's why it's advisable to explore the deeper reasons you're now attracted to teaching.

Have you been exposed to teaching and realised you like it? Have you learned more about yourself, since starting university, and are realising that your real passion is teaching, not accounting? Have you discovered a hidden passion for helping youth, or is the new-found passion for the subjects - mathematics and English - themselves?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then you should begin exploring how you can transition into doing courses aligned to a teaching career. You may find it helpful to consult your university career and guidance counsellor. He or she is trained to provide more specific guidance.

If you are still passionate about a career in accounts, then by all means, continue to pursue this. You may decide, later on, to pursue teacher certification, if your interest in teaching continues.

It's advisable that you also explore the relative income potential of both career options, not just how you feel about them. Don't overlook or downplay this consideration.

The main caution to observe now is to not switch your career choice, merely on the sudden impulse to do so. Feelings come and go, and so, they are quite unreliable as a primary means of making such important decisions as what career to choose.

n Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of From Problems to Power and co-author of Profile of Excellence.