How did you make a career choice?

I've always been interested in a little bit of everything. I grew up as a first-generation Asian, where my career options were presented to me in a way where I felt like I was making my own decision. Healthcare was huge for me; it was stable, clean, not too stressful, made a lot of money and if I was smart enough, I could do it.

As a result, I gravitated towards physical therapy towards the end of my degree. I did not get into Physical therapy school and decided to take a 5th year to up my grades. I didn't get in again. I then took one semester into a 6th year, and this time I applied to one Occupational therapy school just in case. I was feeling really hopeless.

As I realized my odds of getting into grad school were looking slim, I decided to look into what else I could do. I was always fascinated by human behaviour, especially in my health behaviour classes and I discovered UX research and design. But I had no skills! So I started applying to any healthtech company so I could leverage some skills.

I got an internship at a healthtech company and progressed from Customer Service - > Account Management -> Product Management over the past 3 years. I got burnt out and left. I loved who I became in the process; much more confident in myself, my skills and my belief that all I needed was someone to believe in me, and I could push myself to learn and grow in the best ways possible.

I also realized along the way that I was driven by helping people. I loved to be able to talk to users at the end of the day to see how we could help them more. I loved mentoring younger co-op students. I never developed a muscle or affinity for numbers, statistics and abstract numerical success. I know that this is what makes me a weak product manager.

Along the way, I implemented my own UX Research strategies but in hindsight I wish I did more for UX and tried to incorporate it into my role.

I took a big break between work and now.

Now, I received an offer for Occupational Therapy, but I also have finally received offers for the UX roles I was applying to when I was in product. I'm drawn to OT for the possibility of working with others, and helping people find their true potential. I'm drawn to UX because of I love the idea of being able to analyze problems and solve them.

I gave myself too many options and now I am so confused.

Has anyone been in a position where they've had to make a decision on what to do in their life? I feel all over the place, even in this description.

Appreciate it!

LucyN's profile thumbnail
Sounds like you might be a generalist (mutli-passionate, polymath, however you might want to call it!), and that can be both a blessing and a struggle! You've already identified things you really enjoy - helping others, analyzing and solving problems. But it also sounds like you are pigeonholing both roles into buckets that you don't need to be doing - in both roles you could be doing all the things you enjoy! You are analyzing human/physical problems and helping to solve them as an OT, but also would potentially be working with others in a very collaborative way in UX. I might bucket these more into 'working with people in a physical setting' or 'working on a computer at a desk most of the time' options, if that helps. Also, whatever you choose to do now might not be where you end up in 3 or 5 or 10 years and that's okay. The traditional career path of working in one field for your entire career is no longer the standard so consider what you'd like to do right now, and see where that leads you. Maybe working in OT will help drive solving problems within that field from a UX perspective - how can you combine all the things you like to do into one role??Good luck - it's definitely a hard place to be but also exciting to have different opportunities! Good for you!
rachelkspurrier's profile thumbnail
I agree with Lucy that you sound like a generalist! I'm similar: even though my academic background is in writing (and I'm still a writer), over my 10 years in tech, I've been a data architect, product manager, implementation manager, research analyst, and writer. My wide array of interests and skill sets I've accumulated over the years have given me multiple paths to pursue at any given point and definitely created confusion! I'd recommend trying out a few different mental frameworks to help you make this decision. Below are two articles that present a few different paradigms/exercises that might be helpful: "Navigating Your Career": "The IC's Guide to Career Conversations": these help, and best of luck with the decision!