When I was in college in the 1960s, I met a female surgeon in the airport. She said she was one of four female surgeons in the country. I asked her if she would recommend that career. She said you have to expect harassment all the way, and lots of push-back. “You’ll have to be very, very tough.”
I didn’t feel tough. I learned there were quotas for females in medical school. I had no idea how you financed a dream like that. My major was literature, because that door was open and fun.
Recently I did a reality check. Late in life I am aware of MANY careers that I would have liked. Who knows if I would have liked being a doctor? Many are unhappy because of paperwork, pressures to turn over patients, etc.
Here’s what might have worked had I known about them:
Think tank/policy analyst & researcher
Documentary film maker
Translator/interpreter at UN level
Science data simulation expert
Girl Scout professional
Doula/nurse practitioner w/refugees
Many kids head for careers that someone in their family already has. They choose majors in college having no work experience, with no idea what it costs to live, well or simply.
Advice I wish I’d gotten early:
Open your mind to a wide range of careers that match your personality. At twenty or so, your work experience is limited, even through your family and friends. Before you commit to a career and invest in years of preparation, get an assessment of personality and your fit with certain kinds of work and environments.
One example is the Birkman Method (https://www.birkman.com/). Or the Strong Interest Inventory (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strong_Interest_Inventory). Also Myers-Briggs for generally, how you interact with the world (http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/).
For example, I know a number of ex-lawyers who passed the bar and three months in, found they hated the work, the conditions of work, or the culture. Teachers who love to teach and find out they can’t stand a room full of kids every day. People in academics who discover that they really like doing projects for clients more than writing papers and putting up with academic politics. (That was me, a very unhappy starting academic.)
A few hundred dollars can save you regretting years and thousands spent on a degree.