Woe Is Me! “I’m Not Good at What I Studied. Is it Too Late to Switch Careers?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I studied Korean for five years, but I’m neither good at it, nor do I have any interest in it anymore. I currently do not have a job, and it’s killing me that people around me are earning and traveling while I’m sitting at home, practically doing nothing. I have been thinking of changing my field to become a writer, but I do not have the qualifications, and have, therefore, been rejected by multiple companies. I am losing hope day by day — constantly worried, and thinking of just finding a job that uses my Korean skills. How do I know if I am making the right career choice?”
— Caution: Self-doubt at work
DR: If you aren’t interested in it, switch. If you don’t, there’s a chance you’ll simply be prolonging your misery. However, I would also urge you to introspect on why you lost interest in a field you’d chosen to dedicate half a decade of your life to. If it’s simply because you were made to feel you aren’t good at it, I think you may want to give it another shot. If, instead, you realize you were driven by peer pressure — or something similarly arbitrary, but human — I’m more inclined to recommend a switch. There’s no guarantee of that working, of course, but most things in life come without guarantees anyway — precisely why decision-making is such a task! But, sometimes, we must take leaps of faith; for you, that moment seems to be now.
AS: To be honest, you can’t know at this stage whether it is the “right” career choice or not, but that shouldn’t stop you from experimenting if you are not happy with your current situation. What I would do, if I were in your place, would be to get a job that pays the bills for the time being, while working on building my skills and portfolio as a writer. Read others’ work, research companies, and keep writing — rejections are a part of the process, and you might have to steel yourself to get through these without letting them affect your self-esteem.
If you are not very keen on becoming a writer, but are only choosing it because you see no other alternative at present, I would suggest you spend some time figuring out other options as well, irrespective of whether you have the qualifications for them or not. You can shortlist the ones you are most inclined towards, and start working on them. While it is never too late to switch careers, you should bear in mind that it will require a certain amount of dedication and hard work.
AS: I do not think there is a way to determine if we are on the right career path. Having said that, I think, for now, maybe finding a job in Korean till you have some savings to be able to change your field might be a good idea? As for writing, just start doing it — keep practicing, and find the right people you can show it to from time to time.
RN: You should do the Korean studies-related job and treat it like the 9-5 that it is, while you cultivate your true passion! It’s okay not to be passionate about what you do for a living. You have the training for it (not being good is less of an issue here) — why not grit your teeth and pursue it while you try to become a better writer in the meantime? Career choices are not permanent; you’re not at a crossroads where there’s no turning back. You can do the job in the field you’ve been trained in, and switch to something else later as you become better and more interested in something else. The practical thing to do — given the recession, the job market, and life, in general — is to just start and figure it out along the way. You’ll know what to do once you get moving!