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By now, most of my contemporaries have carved out a career for themselves. Most have established themselves in what they will be doing for the next 40 years. And most have spent a great deal of time, money, and education (to kick off, or continue) to be what they are when they grow up.

So what happens when you get there are you don’t like it?

One dear friend is currently struggling with her career in law right now. As she explained: she has lots of friends in the legal world… and only two  like it [I happen to be one; she is not]. But she isn’t alone. I look at my friends in the legal world, and the statistic is harrowing: I think it might be 4 or 5 to 1, in favor of they who don’t like the practice of law.

So in this case, what do the attorneys do after spending 3 years of their young lives and upwards of 6 figures (in addition to undergraduate debt) to become something they hate? Do they stick with it and try different arenas? Or do they plug along and keep on keepin’ on? Or, do they about face and try something else?

Nobody likes to be thought of as a quitter. And I certainly wouldn’t think that on my friends who are jaded by the practice. It isn’t for everyone. But I also think that certain situations are horrendous, no matter who you are (read: megalaw, requiring 1950 – 2200 billables/year). But is it practical to change course so early in our careers?

And do other occupations experience this? I hope not to the degree that attorneys do, as we seem to have a high attrition rate in the early years out of law school. But do doctors do this? Or are they better prepared to find what it is they like before graduating?

I am a firm believer that it’s worth being in a good work environment where you enjoy what it is you do. (You know, I’ve said the phrase before: If you like what you do, you won’t have to work another day in your life). Is it realistic to make a full-on career change just out of school? And really, how do we know that we just aren’t one block over from the big party and all we have to do is take a short walk?

~M

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3 thoughts on “The Wrong Road (or, What Now?)

  1. I think most young people go through this when they finish a program and start a career. It turns out to be so different than what you expected and envisioned. I’m no lawyer, I’m no doctor, but I’m 26 years old, in the helping profession and I already feel it’s time for a new career.

    I think it’s worth sticking it out for a couple years, some days I get the greatest satisfaction from counseling a child, adult, elderly, teen mother, abused woman, whatever issue I can help with, other days I’m frustrated and want to walk out.

  2. Pingback: Post-script « Thursday Morning Meditations

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