Confused About Career Paths... Again

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MC1729
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01 Aug 2020, 12:36 am

Over the past few years I've been changing my goals as to what I want to do as a career. From age 4 (yes, age 4) to when I was around 17-18, I wanted to be a veterinarian (specifically a research veterinarian once I found out what that was). My mind changed when I realized I was no longer super interested in biology, and wanted to study psychology instead. So that's been my career goal for the past 1 1/2 - 2 years (specifically I want a P.h.D), but I realized recently that many psychology careers involve working with people, a skill that I, being autistic, severely lack. I've definitely tipped my toe in social endeavors before (I acted in school plays up until 6th grade and led many fundraisers), but never really succeeded in many of them. I'm specifically interested in becoming an expert in one particular field of psychology (probably within abnormal psychology, so a specific disorder or something like that), but the more and more I look into careers that deal with clinical psychology, the more I keep hitting the dead end of it requiring exemplary social skills. Research/experimental science, psychometrics, and quantitative psychology are all of interest to me, as well as forensic psychology and animal psychology. I know a lot of those professions usually need fewer social skills, but I'm still going to have to present at conferences and work with patients or experiment participants, and just thinking about that makes me shiver. Also I'm interested in so many parts of psychology that I don't know which one to choose! Recently (I mean by within the past week) I gained a re-involvement in the Maker movement and a renewed (I used to be interested in this in middle school) interest in all things robotics and programming. It's such an intense interest I've been wondering whether I actually want to get a software engineering or data science degree instead. But I'm not going to base my entire career goals on just something I've taken interest in within the past few days (especially considered something just happened to me that may have triggered this) I do, however, want to learn Python. According to my uncle (an electrical engineer who is probably very high-functioning on the spectrum himself) and other resources, I've been told that if I seriously study Python for a year, I can become semi-professional and maybe get a job. That's definitely something I'm very interested in, as I want a source of my own income, and as a student all I get is money from my parents. But I understand also that I need social skills regardless if I want to find work. I'm just wondering if any of this is worth it. Anyway, I hope that made sense. Has anyone had similar experiences? What would you recommend?


_________________
Never give up, never surrender. - Galaxy Quest

AQ Score: 46 out of 50

EQ Score: 5 out of 80

RDOS Score: Your neurodiverse (Aspie) score: 145 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 51 of 200
You are very likely neurodiverse (Aspie)


starkid
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01 Aug 2020, 1:08 am

Do some research to find out what the workdays are like for the careers you are interested in. Try to do quick interviews with people who work in those fields, watch videos and read books about those fields, look for internships or volunteer opportunities in those fields. Check out onetonline.org and look up careers you are interested in.

If you are still in school, try to access career counseling. You may also be able to get this type of counseling (or information about different kinds of job) at a community employment center.

Make up a list of things you want, don't want, can tolerate, and can't tolerate in a work environment (not just the interests you want to indulge on the job). That should help you decide which possible career fits you better.

I'm basically saying that you should explore aspects of possible careers other than the topics you are interested in. The interests might be fun, but the actual job duties, office politics, working hours, etc. might be intolerable for you.

As for programming, an easy way to figure out what professional programming is like is to get involved in the open source community. Note that this won't necessarily show you what the work environment might be like; it's about the work of programming itself. Download a piece of open source software, look at the code, note how complicated it is. Join the developer forums, chatrooms, etc. and see what they talk about and the kinds of problems they face.


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MC1729
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01 Aug 2020, 1:12 am

starkid wrote:
Do some research to find out what the workdays are like for the careers you are interested in. Try to do quick interviews with people who work in those fields, watch videos and read books about those fields, look for internships or volunteer opportunities in those fields. Check out onetonline.org and look up careers you are interested in.

If you are still in school, try to access career counseling. You may also be able to get this type of counseling (or information about different kinds of job) at a community employment center.

Make up a list of things you want, don't want, can tolerate, and can't tolerate in a work environment (not just the interests you want to indulge on the job). That should help you decide which possible career fits you better.

I'm basically saying that you should explore aspects of possible careers other than the topics you are interested in. The interests might be fun, but the actual job duties, office politics, working hours, etc. might be intolerable for you.

As for programming, an easy way to figure out what professional programming is like is to get involved in the open source community. Note that this won't necessarily show you what the work environment might be like; it's about the work of programming itself. Download a piece of open source software, look at the code, note how complicated it is. Join the developer forums, chatrooms, etc. and see what they talk about and the kinds of problems they face.


Thank you so much for the advice! I definitely do want to shadow some psychologists and potentially engineers as well, but it's hard with COVID. I will try to take advantage of online resources as best I can.


_________________
Never give up, never surrender. - Galaxy Quest

AQ Score: 46 out of 50

EQ Score: 5 out of 80

RDOS Score: Your neurodiverse (Aspie) score: 145 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 51 of 200
You are very likely neurodiverse (Aspie)


Feyokien
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01 Aug 2020, 1:20 am

To add to what starkid said, I would also check the viability of your degree to get a job on the other end when you graduate.

I wanted to be anthropologist when I first went to college, but I had to check that expectation because of few actual jobs and no financial resources from my parents. I compromised on geoscience. The interview process is particularly challenging for those on the spectrum so the more you can increase the job pool that you can apply to the better.

Coding is always a good skill to develop, I'm about to self teach myself python as well (got a trove of resources in a humble bundle)


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INTJ185
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02 Aug 2020, 1:42 am

Generally, it seems, people are happiest when their career(s) involves an interest or skill they were doing throughout their childhood. Recalling what it was you enjoyed doing, as a child, might give insight into what you will enjoy most as an adult.

It's also fairly unusual for a person to become exactly what they entered university for. It's also unusual for a person to have just one specific, narrow career path.