On Career Options

Today’s word-dump summary/subtitle: In Which I Reflect Loquaciously On What the Hell I’m Doing With My (School-Focused) Life

I have a year and three months left of my undergraduate education. In six months or so, I’ll be applying to graduate school, medical school, and who knows what else. The fact is, I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing this time two years from now. This unknown is a lingering stress at the back of my mind – not enough to disrupt my life (after all, what can I do about it?), but its presence is noticeable. I have the impression that most (if not all) of my peers are in this situation as well. We look enviously on those who know exactly where they’re going/what they’re doing. We’re at once violently restless and seeking to settle.

I am an extremely goal-oriented person. Give me something to work towards, and you can be assured that I’ll pour myself heart and soul into it. Give me many things to work towards, and I’ll try to distribute myself among all these (which sometimes works out and sometimes does not). I also want to do just about everything. I have multiple ideas for careers, which all require slightly different paths – and I can see myself equally as happy in any of these.

For example, my primary objective over the past year and a half or so has been to set myself up for a career in clinical research. I would absolutely thrive in a setting like this, but (but, of course there are “buts”) I’ve also begun to consider the amount of life I’ll have to devote to it. At nineteen, it seems fully reasonable to remain in school until you’re forty – and while I’m absolutely still willing to commit to that, I do have to make sure I’ve thought long and hard about the sacrifices that will have to be made. Things like being salaried, buying a car, even getting married and starting a family. These things can still be done, absolutely- however, I wouldn’t be properly salaried until my mid-thirties, and the flexibility and freedom to do many things requiring time and money would be limited until my full matriculation.

The other side to this is “getting there” in the first place. I’ve taken multiple steps in gaining admission to a PhD/MD – from working in a lab (which has helped to garner publications) to taking my MCAT to keeping up my grades to shadowing a doctor to volunteering in various areas in the community (sitting on the board of directors for a youth choir, the Ontario Breast Cancer Association, coaching a soccer team) to maintaining my own extracurriculars (singing in a few choirs, playing in the university concert band, exercising).  That said, my grades aren’t at the “top” (I have a 3.9 on a 4.0 scale – woe is me, I know, I know); my specific clinical volunteerism is lacking.  Getting into any medical program is a lottery; for all that I have going for me, I also have fair bit “against”.

I intend to apply to Master’s degrees. In bio-molecular sciences (here), in physiology, in nutrition. I’m also considering applying to a university that has a B.Sc. program in nutrition and pursue dietetics; I could do a shorter second B.Sc. (two or three years instead of four) on account of the credits I’ve obtained through my kinesiology degree, and work as a kinesiologist/personal trainer on the side; this summer I plan to become a certified personal trainer and a certified exercise physiologist the next (after having obtained my degree), both through CSEP.

This last option is appealing to me on some days; doing a masters, more so on others. The issue is that I love both research and human interaction; I like the idea of both helping others with my current knowledge while searching for new things. I am passionate about physiology and metabolism (and the impact of nutrition and exercise on these); the only thing that I know for sure is that I’m headed somewhere in this direction. My interest in the MD/PhD degree is largely based on this duality of patient interaction and research.

That’s where I’m at, currently. Working towards a balance between my interests and hobbies; my work life; my student life; my relationships (SO, family, friends). Trying to take care of myself as best as I can. My mind is constantly busy; I’m paring back in other ways to try and compensate. I think that this is where the urge to settle comes from – busy-ness is a disease, and I want to slow down as much as my life is currently picking up pace. I’m just going to trust that as long as I continue to work, my career will sort itself out. Hopefully balance preceding this.

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