Career Goals

Since my last post, I’ve been running along per usual. Yesterday I was scheduled to do a tempo run of 5 miles, but since I have a seriously hard time doing any sort of speedwork on cold legs, I tossed in an extra warm-up mile. Here are the stats for my run:

  • Goal: 5 mile tempo @ 8:40-8:45 pace
  • Actual: 6 miles, 1 mi warmup and 5 @ average 8:38 pace

It was a pretty good and uneventful run- not too much to report! This morning I did a quick 3.5 miles around my neighborhood, which also turned out to be pretty uneventful.

I had planned on this post talking about some sweet new running gear that I just got in the mail, but I’m a bit of a dork and didn’t bring my camera or memory card with me, so I guess that will have to wait!

Today, while having some downtime at work, I started to play with the Lululemon Goaltender web application. The Hubble and I have been talking about setting goals based on their model since seeing some examples at one of their stores. Basically, the goal is to come up with 1, 5, and 10 year goals in three categories: career, personal, and health. As a person who absolutely loves to plan, I am no stranger to setting goals, and setting personal and health goals came pretty easily. However, I am seriously at a loss regarding my career goals.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor. When I was in high school, I really wanted to be a doctor. When I got to college, I picked the hardest biological sciences program I could find at my school (biochemistry & biophysics) because I learned that’s what program all of the hardcore pre-med students were in.  By the end of my sophomore year, I realized that I really disliked the classes I was taking, and I realized that if I hadn’t picked it as a pre-med major, I wouldn’t have picked it at all. I switched my major to chemical engineering and loved it, and my dreams of being a doctor faded. In my senior year, I decided to apply to grad school, and thought that biomedical engineering would be a good mix of my engineering background and my interest in medicine. I was accepted to a few schools, and decided to attend University of California, Davis to pursue my PhD.

I loaded up all of my things and moved to Davis, CA. I loved Davis, and I tried to love my program. I was learning some interesting things, but I was over-stressed and downright burnt out. In my years as an undergrad, I definitely worked hard and had a lot of long nights, but I was able to stay positive and enjoy myself. Grad school was a different story entirely- to say that I wasn’t thriving was a major understatement. I was miserable!

I spent a large portion of my first year at grad school looking for a way out. Some of my classmates were in a dual MD/PhD program, and they encouraged me to look further into applying to medical school because I had been interested in it for so long and had already completed all of the prerequisites. I started volunteering at the hospital in a cardiac rehab facility, and studied like crazy for the MCAT. That spring, I took and did pretty well on the MCAT and started all of my other application materials. In the end, though, I realized that I was not ready to throw myself into medical school. Like I said above, I was simply burnt out and needed time to regroup before I made such a major commitment.

I started looking for jobs during spring quarter. I got the offer for the job I am currently working between spring finals and our qualifying exams, and I quit grad school immediately. The Hubble (then boyfriend) and I found a place to live before I even got the official job offer, and I was moved to San Jose in less than 2 weeks. Looking back, I am amazed that it all happened so fast!

I’ve been at my current job since July of 2009, and life has changed a lot since then. The Hubble and I got engagedandmarried (yes, it happened that fast), we both continued progressing in our current jobs, we got a ton of pets, we moved, etc. In terms of my personal life, I am exactly where I want to be. In terms of my career, I’m pretty sure that I’m not. I took an exam to become and Engineer in Training (EIT) in February, and I qualify to take the test to become a Professional Engineer (PE) next spring, but is that what I really want? I like engineering and would say I’m a pretty good engineer, but I don’t have any real passion for it.

What are things that I am passionate about? The Hubble says that I light up when I am cooking or talking about cooking. I spend an embarrassing amount of my free time thinking about, reading about, or actually running. I worry significantly more about the obesity epidemic in our country than groundwater contamination. Things like that.

Unfortunately, while I’m not a terrible cook, I’m doubtful that I could get a well-paying job in the food industry. Also, I’m a slow chubby runner, so I doubt Nike is going to offer to sponsor me anytime soon. Which really leaves one option that I feel could be viable, and that’s getting into the healthcare industry.

There are a lot of things about becoming a doctor that I would love:

  • The medicine itself (a no-brainer)
  • Working directly with patients. I loved working with all of the patients that came into the rehab center I volunteered at. I felt like I was making a difference, even if it was a small one.
  • Being my own boss. I strive to work for myself, and would want to open a private practice. Even with the added responsibility, I believe I would feel more freedom with the ability to make my own decisions.

However, going to medical school would be a huge commitment in so many ways:

  • Time. Time to brush up on my volunteering and medical experience, time to go through the application process, and then all of the time associated with actually being in medical school.
  • Money. The Hubble and I have a major fear of debt. For example, we probably won’t own a home unless we can buy it outright. Medical school is expensive, and I wouldn’t have any income during that time.
  • Life-Energy. I value every single free minute that I can spend with my Hubble. I am ready to have kids in the next couple of years. Going back to school would require a lot of compromise and add a lot of stress.

Basically, there are a lot of thoughts floating around in my head about this whole issue. I keep thinking about going to medical school and I get excited, but then I get nervous and overwhelmed by the logistics of it. There are so many factors to consider and so many paths our lives can take us. Instead of avoiding setting goals because I don’t know what I want, I am going to work towards getting to a place where they can be easily defined.


2 thoughts on “Career Goals

  1. funny that i ran across your blog tonight and this is the first post. i’m a medical student, and i’ll finish in may. i don’t know that i have great or sage advice, but feel free to email me if you want.

    those are all valid reasons not to do it. it is a HUGE suck on your time, life energy, and you WILL accumulate a crapton of debt. but, you will also experience some truly awesome things. being awake at 2 am isn’t as bad when you’re catching a baby 🙂

    again, if you want to chat, email me!


  2. What about something a little easier to bite off like a nutritionist, or a personal trainer, OR BOTH?!! You are clearly capable of learning the science, have the personal experience and the passion for it.

    (Also, you’re not slow. I’m personally insulted by that, because you are faster than me. Ha!)

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