I’m choosing a degree (or trade route), how do I know what to choose?

This is a critical decision and not to be taken lightly. Degrees are not what they used to be, but the right degree can still be necessary and advantageous to a person wanting to make a fortune.

A sage piece of advice I can give here. There is a big difference between studying something and doing it as a profession. Sometimes studying a given career sucks, but actually doing it is fun. And sometimes studying a given career is fun, but actually doing it sucks.

So how do you separate the two and find out what you want to do? The single best thing I can say to do is shadow someone. For two weeks if you can. Do what they do, go to work with them, learn what their life is like. You owe it to your future self to make this small commitment before committing years of your life and money to a particular career.

But how do I do that, you say? It’s actually not that complicated. Maybe someone who is family or friend is in that career. If not just pick up the phone:

“Hi I’m Mr. Dong and I’m entering college next year, I’m interested in becoming a _________, but want to see what it’s like. Would you mind meeting me, and possibly letting me shadow you for a few days to see what the work is like?”

Obviously you need to sell yourself and use some tact to get in there, but many professionals would agree to such an arrangement, especially if you agree to be quiet and helpful.

Some careers may have some privacy issues that might make it impossible, but there are other ways to at least interview people that do the career in question, and you can find out what it’s like. Get multiple opinions.

Just don’t spend 4 years of your life and a lot of money cause you thought to yourself, “gee I think doing ______ would be cool”. This decision creates a lot of unhappy people.

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