Studying what you love vs studying for an occupation
Two articles in the Herald last week gave conflicting advice for career planning. One said that you should study what you’re interested in, and another said you should study for the jobs that are available.
Which advice should you take? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
Studying what you find interesting, even if it’s a non-vocational course
Examples: history, zoology
- You’re likely to do better at a subject you have a genuine interest in
- You’ll meet like-minded people
- You can craft a career around your interests or find a use for your degree if you think outside the box
- You might struggle to get a job in that field if you study an obscure topic
- If lots of other people are studying it as well, then you will have more competition for few jobs
Studying for a specific job
Examples: radiography, law, medicine
- You’ll have something specific to work towards
- There will be jobs to apply for when you’re done
- You don’t know what jobs will be available in a few years’ time or what the job market will be like – will your skills be transferable?
- It is rare for people to stay in the same job, or even the same industry, their entire working life
So, which strategy is best?
Obviously there are good and bad points for each – so perhaps a mixture of the two is the way to go. There’s always a way to mix your interests with sensible career goals. Not everyone can be a doctor, but on the flip side, not everyone can be a media researcher, an electrician or artist. Career decisions aren’t one dimensional and everyone has different values – a big pay packet might be what you’re after, but others want a good life-work balance.
When I enrolled for university, the job I have now didn’t really even exist – I hadn’t wanted to be a web editor since I was five. However, I had always been interested in writing and language.
Therefore, think big, think long term and most of all, think about what will make you happy.