Thursday, March 1, 2012
Where to From Here: Career and Life Edition
So, with getting told to take a hike by both vet and public health school, I've had to seriously start thinking about my career goals and options. I know I can apply for both again, but at this point, I have to be seriously practical about what paths I want to take and which I should take. If it were just a matter of being a vet, I would go for it, no questions asked. I would look for any vet related job, no matter how crappy or pig-related. I would apply as many times as needed to every single vet school in the country. And I would be a kick-ass vet. But there's just one thing. Actually two things.
1. A DVM degree has a minimum price tag of ~$200,000, when you add it all up. Tuition, books, living expenses, and interest. For a career that has a mid-to-high 5-figure salary. I look at that and go *gulp*. From the outside looking in, the vet schools seem to have the position of "you were smart enough to get in, you're smart enough to figure out how to pay it off." Maybe I'm wrong and they introduce you to the Magic Fairy Who Makes Your Student Debt Go Poof, but hearing new vets talk about $1200-2000 per month in student loan payments, I doubt it.
2. Job security. I think this is going to be a huge deal for my generation. Going through The Great Recession has given us a very cynical and sobered outlook on life, especially stability. We've seen people get laid off and lose everything, and most of us would like to avoid that, thankyewverymuch. It's also a fact of life that when times get tough, vet care for Fido/Fluffy/Dobbin take a backseat to things like paying for food and housing. I don't blame people for this, but it's also something I have to be aware of.
So, vet school is off the table, and the numbers for Public Health didn't look much better. Now I have to reevaluate, and figure out what exactly I want from a career.
1. Financial security/independence - this is a HUGE one. I want to be able to support myself and my animals very comfortably. I don't need anything luxurious, but I eventually want my own farm and to be able to go to clinics/competitions without worrying whether I can pay the rent/mortgage. And (most importantly) I want to be able to do so easily without having to rely on a second income. Right now, I only have three men in my family that I consider at least half decent, and the thought of becoming partnered with anyone who is anything like the others terrifies me. So, until I go through a couple decades of therapy, I'm swearing off any serious relationships and I never want to be dependent on a man's income.
2. Job Security - also HUGE. This goes hand-in-hand with #1, but I feel it deserves its own category. I don't just want a decent paying career, I want a decent paying career that is absolutely essential to the organization that contains it. The only way I want to involuntarily leave my job is if the entire department/organization disappears. This goes back to being a Millennial, but most of us have seen someone with a "safe" job get sacked. I also don't want to be dependent on grants. So many times research is used as a bargaining chip or an example of wasteful spending ("We're spending MONEY on research?! On things that will help people?! *faints*") I really don't want to have to constantly justify why my work is important and should be continued.
3. Mentally challenging/stimulating - I want boredom to be the exception rather than the rule. 'Nuff said
4. Helping Others - I want to be A Force For Good In The World, ideally. I want to help people and make their lives better. I couldn't stand sitting in a cube or behind a desk filing paper after paper long term. I want to do something that demonstrates a real tangible benefit.
So, what ideas do I have? Right now, the two leading contenders are pharmacy and genetics counseling. Both fulfill all the above criterion, and they're still related to medicine. Now the plan of action is to start exploring both of those, starting with the programs at the U. What kinds of schooling is needed, what the career outlook is, cost/income, if I have to take any other undergrad classes later, etc. Right now, I'm mostly focused on gathering information and finding a job after I graduate.
So many things to think about.