Drawn to a Field Outside Her Major

Mikaela writes:
I am 21 and having a mid-life crisis!!! I will graduate from the University of Maryland with a degree in marketing soon. One problem — after a few internships I am convinced that I do NOT want to go into marketing; in fact I do not want to go into business at all. The past few months I have been drawn to medicine — specifically pediatric cancer — but I’m not sure that med school and being a doctor is in my future. So I have been considering law school — possibly to study medical ethics or patient advocacy. Basically I want to help families who are faced with difficult medical decisions — what careers do this? What kind of education should I be trying to get now? Does law school make sense? HELP PLEASE!!!

The Career Doctor responds:
Mikaela first please take a deep breath…at 21 you are far from a mid-life crisis! And knowing my background and love of marketing I am saddened by your change of heart…but fear not because it is never — never — too late to discover what you really value — what you’re passionate about in life.
It sounds as though you may have worked through some issues and discovered the one thing you are passionate about: helping people. I laud that decision. I always think of social work when I think of people whose passion is to help other people. There are some great resources for people considering social work as a career. Check out the Social Work Career Quiz The New Social Worker Online and from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook: Social Workers
which is simply a fantastic resource.
My advice to you however does not mean that getting a medical degree or a law degree is out of the question. And in fact if you wanted to get involved in social work given your stage in college you would probably need to get a master’s degree in social work.
I strongly advise you to use your network — or develop a network — and seek expert advice. If your college offers sociology or social work courses go speak with the professors and talk to them about your career goals. If your college has a pre-law or pre-med program go talk with the professors involved and gather information and advice. See if your college town or home town has a patients’ advocacy organization and see if you can meet shadow or intern there to gather information and advice.
Best of luck to you in finding your career direction.

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