Build a career around your interests, not the other way around

Throughout the course of our childhoods, we are encouraged to dream big. Our families poured a flood of hopes and dreams into the expanses of our young and malleable minds, instilling in us the values of hard work and perseverance in order to materialize such great aspirations. Many of us hear the occupations of doctor, lawyer, businessman/woman, engineer and scientist repeated over and over until these terms become subconsciously equated with a metric by which we measure adult success. Yet the conventional career paths we aspire to take are not as cut and dry as we are led to believe. In fact, the workforce is actually an incredibly diverse space, with a plethora of niche fields catering to almost every interest imaginable. Thus, it is essential to recognize the intrinsic value and validity of all individual interests, even if they appear to be extraneous or contradictory. 

Our lives are indubitably shaped by our parental figures and embodied by extraordinary teachers, mentors and family members alike. With the weight of their dreams resting heavily on our shoulders, we often catch ourselves feeling guilty about indulging in those interests that have no immediate connection to our professional prospects. Too often, we justify such compromises, because we are the byproduct of those who have, almost certainly, made immense sacrifices to get us to the places where we are today. That is, if you should be so lucky. Bottom line, there exists a certain degree of pressure to become the best possible version of yourself in society. Herein lies the fundamental dilemma of the young 20-something: What is considered the best version of you? Is it the version of yourself that adheres to the predominant societal norms of success, or is it the version of yourself whose mannerisms reflect what you derive the most personal gratification from? 

Realistically, the best version of yourself emerges amid blurred lines between the two. Many of us make the mistake of aligning our interests to fit mutually exclusive careers, because we trust that this will make us happy in the future. We prevent ourselves from exploring a broad spectrum of opportunities outside the confines of our intended career paths under the misconception that they would distract us from what should be our real focus. In reality, the career that you believe you are destined for is composed of a multidisciplinary workforce. For example, if you are interested in coding but are an intended pre-med student, you might find yourself in the world of innovative medical technology or bioengineering. If you are passionate about health care but are pre-business, you might explore the administrative side of running a hospital. Talented musicians who aspire to join the health care field might look into the growing field of music therapy. Those interested in medicine, who happen to also love sports and physical fitness, might consider pursuing a career in sports medicine. A passion for both community advocacy and health might steer you toward a career in public health policy. The list goes on and on, but the underlying theme remains the same: You can cut and paste just about any of your interests together to build a sustainable and rewarding career for yourself. 

Furthermore, there are myriad advantages associated with integrating your passions in order to inform a future career path. The personal satisfaction and fulfillment derived from your career bolsters your mental health and acuity, which promotes a happier (and less stressful) lifestyle. Doing the work that you love also means that you produce a substantially better quality of work, which significantly improves the scope of your professional career. Moreover, the courage to pursue an unorthodox career path embodies the very notion of dreaming big. By chasing your biggest dreams, which emboldens you to be innovative and contribute meaningfully to society on your own terms, you are fulfilling the hopes of your supporters and honoring the values they have instilled in you.  Thus, a coalescence of your passions may ultimately produce the most optimal conditions for your future. 

While it may seem daunting and intimidating to abandon the professional archetypes you have come to identify as the norms of the working world, it may also be in your best interest to embrace the diversifying landscape of the workforce. So, take your future into your own hands by doing some research online, consulting trusted mentors and conversing with your peers. At an esteemed university such as UC Berkeley, which teems with creativity and ingenuity, anything is possible. So, welcome your idiosyncrasies and your seemingly contending passions. Cherish your love for dance, excitement for sports, dedication to community advocacy and your eagerness for writing, as they may just establish the foundation of your future.  

Contact Pariswi Tewari at[email protected].