It doesn’t matter if we went to the best universities or business schools, many times our career vision are tunneled to only those careers that are considered hot trends in school or what our parents did (e.g., consulting, investment banking, engineering, accounting, doctors, lawyers, scientist).  We end up making decisions with limited information and have to live it for many years or even a life time.

It’s amazing that in college there is not a career class or even a good book that discusses all the various careers that a person can pursue.   Here are three examples of careers I wish I knew about earlier.

  1. Pharmaceutical sales – I was at a birthday party this weekend and was speaking to a fellow mom who is a Partner at a major investment firm.  While we were exchanging tips on work life balance, she told me one of her friends works in Pharmaceutical sales.  She works 4 days every OTHER week and make a pretty good living and get flexibility in her hours.  We both wondering if we would have gotten into our mutual careers today in finance and consulting if we knew about careers like this one.
  2. Airline Pilot – My friend’s husband is a seasoned pilot for Fed Ex.  He makes almost $200k a year and works sometimes only 4 days a MONTH!  They do have to live in Memphis (one of FedEx headquarters) and often have to fly on Christmas and New Years, but 4 day a MONTH!   They almost moved to Paris one year because Paris is another FedEx headquarter.  He, his wife, and his family can fly any airline stand by at 90% off retail.   He has been there for over 15 years and now actually have pretty good job security too.  I also find out that as long as you correct 20/20, you can be a pilot.  I am not saying I would be a pilot but would have been interesting to consider as an option.  I never even considered working for an airline.  Any airline employee get travel discount and I love to travel
  3. Retail buyer – A girlfriend I met through mutual friends a few years back told me she is a buyer for a major retailer.   A buyer is someone who travels to various parts of the world and tries to figure out what to purchase for the retail store that could be trendy and deal with wholesalers.  If you like shopping for clothes, negotiations, and travel, perhaps this is a career for you.  She did say it took her a long time to get this job as there are few positions and you have to get in early.  I definitely wouldn’t have minded being a buyer when I was single.

My point is these are just 3 examples.  I am sure there are many more out there.  Why don’t they teach this in College so we can make smarter choices?  If it is not taught then it is up to us to explore more options for ourselves, during networking events, conversations with friends or with strangers on a boring airplane ride.  If you hear of a new career that sounds interesting ask the following type of questions

  • nature of work – level of mental challenges
  • level of pay and upward mobility and job security
  • work life balance / work flexibility
  • Level of travel
  • what are the downside? there is always some with any career.

If you know of any book that talk about this, pls tell me.  I would love to read it and share with others.  Remember a person may have up to 6 careers in a lifetime.  It is never too late to switch.  It’s just hard.  Good luck with your job and career search!

– Lei

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