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 Post subject: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:51 pm 
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Drunk Dialed Ian MacKaye
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Dear PPK. I am soon to graduate from my adult high school course (unless i want to take an extra year of science and math) and I am confused. I don't know what I want to do with my life.

Here's the thing; I can basically study whatever I want. I am finishing my high school with an average which is higher than any requirement for any education in Denmark. I have 6 more years of school support money, and studying is free here, so I feel really privileged. But it also puts a lot of pressure on me.. I mean, I can be almost whatever I want.
I thought I knew exactly what I wanted - I was going to apply to design school (which is under the Art Academy, so I wouldn't be sure to get in). But now.. I don't know. I mean, I thought it made enough sense for me, I thought that my creative drive was much higher than my academic drive. Now I'm not so sure. I never calculated with being able to chose freely, and now I have to decide what I want. And I am torn! And it is causing me a lot of stress.

Here are what I've thought about so far:

-Design
-Architecture
-Medicine
-Psychology

There are a few more that I've thought about, but these 4 have been the most interesting.

The thing with architecture and design: it would make a lot of sense to me if I could get one of those dream jobs you know.. Urban planning, working internationally, helping build cities with less crime, creating cities with diversity etc. Or if I could design medical equipment and environmentally friendly products etc. But it is not realistic to expect, and I think it would kill my soul to have to sell myself to big companies making fancy-shmancy stuff for wealthy people. The educations are definitely the most interesting, but there is no job security and it's just for the next 5 years, and then what happens after that? And that is IF I get in.

Medicine: I've been playing around with it for a while now, after getting a new friend who studies medicine and who brought me to a lecture at the institute where she is studying. It seems like a really great place, and I definitely like human biology and chemistry and math and it would definitely make me feel like I had a job that makes a difference. Also, if I decide on medicine, I will have to take another year of science and math (and i'll probably take some more french) in order to get in, and since my other (one of my best) friend is going to take the same courses and apply to get in, we would be able to study together and we work really well as a team - she's as ambitious as me, and it would be totally awesome.
When you study medicine you are also guaranteed a job while you study - nothing too interesting, but it would mean extra money and maybe not taking any more student loans.

Psychology: Well, same as medicine, I guess. It's a field which makes a lot of sense, although no friend to study with. Although, that is totally a non-important thing.. I don't need to know anyone where I study. Less job security than medicine, but whatever.

Other fields I've played around with: art history with a major in modern culture, religion, literature history..

I feel like I am caught between so many things, and I am sort of scared of taking the wrong decision.. And I need to talk about it.

Anyone within any of these fields on the ppm? Any thoughts? I guess it's important for me that my job allows me to do social work, and also, some sort of job security would be great, as I thrive on working hard. I want to be able to travel around the world, and I want a job that either includes that or allows that.

HELP.


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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:00 pm 
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Bought a used copy of Natural Harvest
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I have no advice for you (I do work in the arts, but not quite in the way you're interested in), but I just wanted to say that I wish I had your ambition and drive when I was your age; I know I'm not much older but I didn't get my butt into gear until my mid-twenties. You'll be awesome at whatever you do.

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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:13 pm 
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Have you thought about meeting with people who have those careers? They can give you some great insight. That's how I chose social work.

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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:14 pm 
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well first of all I'm not at all entitled to tell you what to do nor to give you any "serious" advice.

I might be wrong but from what I read I got the impression that you are more in favour of architecture;

this said, I 200% agree on the fact that the presence of friends in your class is not to be taken into account. At all. When you take such decisions you have to act as an individual.

And finally, regarding History of Art and such B plans I can refer to my experience: I have that kind of degree and often think that after all, an artistic degree would not have been worse than such academic degree leading to no job anyway. But still I might be wrong.

Question: would a special math year eventually lead to either architecture or medicine?

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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:23 pm 
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First, congrats on finishing your high school education, and with such great results! That's amazing. I remember a few years back when you had a hard time getting back into the rhythm of things, and you've completely turned things around. Seriously, that's a great achievement.

Next, I remember how stressed I was during my last year of high school and how terrified I was of choosing the wrong education. Now that I've been working full time for a few years, I can look back and say that it's not NEARLY as defining a choice as it seemed back then. With each education you can still work in a huge variety of industries, big companies, small companies, self-employed, doing lots of different things... Working internationally is also never off limits, with enough dedication. So you can relax a bit :)

Now from the fields you have selected, I'd say medicine and psychology stand out because (as I see it) these fields require a very particular mindset. You need to enjoy being at the service of the public, and working directly with dozens of different people every day. As much as I appreciate what they do, I really don't have the personality for a care profession.

When do you need to sign up for your classes? Is there a way you could do an internship or a part time position in one of the fields you are considering before then?


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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 7:35 pm 
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First, I love you so much and am so inspired by all you have accomplished. Congratulations, darling Smoothie!

You are going to be amazing at anything you pick. You are so brilliant and have so much heart and passion. I agree with aelle that reading through it really sounds like medicine and psychology stand out - you are someone who cares so deeply about people and standing up for those who are vulnerable, like the refugees you worked with. I think being of service in those fields would feed your soul.

And definitely meet people and check out the different options! A friend of mine was sure he wanted to be a vet until he interned with one and then went back to being a lawyer...

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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:20 pm 
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Kale Wreath
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Congratulations on your upcoming graduation, it sounds like you've done very well and I am super envious of the financial support you have in Denmark! That's wonderful.

I'm not an architect yet, but I'm entering the last semester of my M.Arch and have 1 year of work experience in the field. I have kind of an obsessive personality and thrive on working my butt off and having an unbalanced life (seriously, I'm a weirdo), I also don't care that much about money, and I have no regrets at all about choosing to study architecture. It's creative but rooted in the physical world and contributes to society, it involves a lot of commitment, and there are lots of travel opportunities if that's important to you (it is to me).

The most complaints I've heard were from classmates who thought they'd make much money doing this, or that they'd have weekends off as a student. The money is okay but it seems that the money you make is inversely proportional to how interesting the projects you're working on are. It's not so hard to get a job at a big corporate firm designing elevator shafts and there is decent pay and job security, but finding a job with an office that does interesting work is pretty tough. Also, it's definitely not a 9-5 profession, maybe at some offices but not most and definitely not when you're a student - it will consume your whole life. And if you're okay with that then go for it! I think that if you're talented and work really hard, the type of work you're interested in (international work, sustainable communities, etc) is totally possible. I absolutely love doing architecture and the only doubts I've had were whether I was mentally/emotionally strong enough to handle the schooling for it.

Hope that helps. Feel free to pm me if you have questions! Also, I can't speak much about urban planning, but that might be something to look into as well given your interests in building cities with diversity/less crime/etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:25 pm 
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I have not read any other replies. As soon as I saw this thread I thought, design, of course.

Maybe there isn't the job security as a whole that you are looking for, but, smoothie, you will never have trouble making money and having job security as a designer. In fact, you will be working your tail off and wish for a moment to sit around. You are so talented.


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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:13 am 
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aelle wrote:
First, congrats on finishing your high school education, and with such great results! That's amazing. I remember a few years back when you had a hard time getting back into the rhythm of things, and you've completely turned things around. Seriously, that's a great achievement.

Next, I remember how stressed I was during my last year of high school and how terrified I was of choosing the wrong education. Now that I've been working full time for a few years, I can look back and say that it's not NEARLY as defining a choice as it seemed back then. With each education you can still work in a huge variety of industries, big companies, small companies, self-employed, doing lots of different things... Working internationally is also never off limits, with enough dedication. So you can relax a bit :)

Now from the fields you have selected, I'd say medicine and psychology stand out because (as I see it) these fields require a very particular mindset. You need to enjoy being at the service of the public, and working directly with dozens of different people every day. As much as I appreciate what they do, I really don't have the personality for a care profession.

When do you need to sign up for your classes? Is there a way you could do an internship or a part time position in one of the fields you are considering before then?


This lady is wise

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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:51 am 
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Congratulations!!!!!

I would suggest you THINK DIFFERENT about the career fields you are thinking about. When I was your age (cue old fart music) I went into school for biology, planning to do medicine. After the first two years I decided I hated medicine, I hated dealing with people [spent some time volunteering in a hospital ER], we were all going to die anyway, I didn't have the mindset for it. So I quit to follow what I enjoyed [art and language]. I don't have regrets, but with the vision of hindsight I realize I would have made a pretty awesome pathologist, or epidemiologist, or all these other types of medical professionals that don't necessarily work in clinics or hospitals. I wish I had known about those options when I was 19, but I didn't, for me doctor simply meant clinic.
I think talking to people who got these degrees (seeing what your options really are) might give you a picture of what you could do, and you could see how they fit your interests and concerns.

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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:12 am 
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I'm on my phone and I'm not good at typing on this contraption, but I finished my psychology doctorate in 2010 and would be happy to chat more if you have questions, pm me!

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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:23 am 
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ugh
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Ditto to what pistachiorose said about architecture. (I'm not an architect but I work in an architecture firm so I hear their complaints.) Also, if you want to get paid decently for doing cool and interesting work, you'll either need to (a) become really talented at doing soul-sucking work for larger firms* for awhile to build your reputation or (b) do interesting stuff earlier but be mostly broke because the interesting jobs that will take on newbies don't have a lot of money to pay.

*The firm where I work actually does a lot of stuff you might consider soul-sucking - like design a lot of residential buildings with condos for super rich city people - but the firm itself is actually full of very nice people, great mentors, and fun company activities. So it is possible to work on stuff you're not particularly excited about but still love the company you work for.

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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:27 am 
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Drunk Dialed Ian MacKaye
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I don't have time to reply to everyone right now, but THANK YOU everyone, for your kind words. And the food for thought. You are all boosting my self-confidence like crazy! It's really hard to decide.. I guess I am currently really caught in between architecture and medicine. those two keep coming back - both make sense in a bigger perspective, although architecture opens up for the opportunity of working both academically, scientifically and creatively.. I guess I really should just apply for both and see where it gets me, right?

Why am I such a controlling person? I wish I could just let it all happen, but the applications make that kind of impossible!

Gotta get back to studying (big exam in two days) but I will definitely be back with more questions - I knew the PPK would be a good source of information..


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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:16 am 
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smoothie wrote:
I guess I really should just apply for both and see where it gets me, right?



that makes sense

smoothie wrote:
Why am I such a controlling person? I wish I could just let it all happen, but the applications make that kind of impossible!

Gotta get back to studying (big exam in two days) but I will definitely be back with more questions - I knew the PPK would be a good source of information..


Nooo Planning your future carefully is not beeing a controlling person! (it's more than normal, it's Wise and admirable)

bon courage for your exam!

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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:00 pm 
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Smoothie, no doubt that you will do something incredible, no matter what it is, because you are a very driven individual. That will take you places. I can't help but think that no matter what you do that you will do it well.

I also wanted to note that if you do, say, start schooling for one and decide on another, there is no harm in switching. I'm not sure how Danish schools are but in the US, there is no penalty (aside from having classes not transfer to another degree, and of course we pay for all courses) in switching majors along the way.

With that said, I think, if you have the time, to get an internship and have life experience in a field you're interested in, would be super valuable to you in making a decision. I'm finding myself at the same point and am thinking the same thing! I'm Pre-Med but I doubt if I would do that, and I found myself in my first year here in NYC wanting to minor in web design. So, with that said, there is always a way to go back, and if you find it unrewarding, there are always other things to do. That is a major blessing!


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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:43 pm 
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fauxfrancais wrote:
I also wanted to note that if you do, say, start schooling for one and decide on another, there is no harm in switching. I'm not sure how Danish schools are but in the US, there is no penalty (aside from having classes not transfer to another degree, and of course we pay for all courses) in switching majors along the way.
I think this is a good thing to keep in mind to reduce some of the pressure you feel. Choosing a field of study is a big decision, for sure, but it is not a life-defining one. You can make your decision and change your mind later on. You would certainly be in good company if you did.

If you're still considering design, I don't think it is necessarily unrealistic to expect to be able to design medical equipment and environmentally friendly products etc. If you work as an in-house designer, you will likely have to do at least some of the kind of work that you don't want to do. But there's also the possibility of working freelance so you can choose to participate in only the projects that interest you, or you could establish your own product or product line. You probably will have to work for other people to gain experience before you go down either of those paths, but in the end, you could have much more control.


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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 4:13 pm 
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Everyone has pretty much covered what I was going to say: try to talk to people working in the fields you are interested in and find out the pros and cons as they experience them and think about how that applies to your temperament, goals, etc.
And, I don't know how it is in Denmark, but here in the US, it's probably more common than not to change degree paths several times and then still end up working in a field different from the one you got your degree in.

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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 4:47 pm 
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Smoothie, before I could even apply for the program I went into, I had to volunteer/observe at least 50 hours in different clinical settings. Many people applying to my program observed for 100-200 hours. This was for healthcare, but it struck me as such a great idea because I think it's brilliant for ANYONE entering/changing careers to actually see the day-to-day work that people do in each field.

So, it's sort of between interviewing/talking to someone about it, and getting an actual internship (or longer-term commitment) in the field you're interested in. It definitely helped me decide I would like the work that I do now.

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 Post subject: Re: Dear PPK, what should I do with my life?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:24 pm 
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smoothie wrote:
although architecture opens up for the opportunity of working both academically, scientifically and creatively.


Medicine can open up these opportunities too. I worked for/with researchers who were affiliated with a university so they taught one course per year (sometimes more) and did research (mainly in low income countries to better people's lives). Research takes a lot of science and creativity of a certain sort. There were huge opportunities for travel or to live short- or long-term in different countries for the various types of doctors and they did so much good for people.

I think applying for both is wise! If you get into both then you can make a choice. If not, start one and then you can always reapply and switch to the other if the first one doesn't feel right.


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