What would you do if you had to do it all over?

Hey guys,
I’m currently a junior in college and I’m at the point where it’s time to start thinking seriously about career choices. I have some idea of what I want to do, but I’m interested in what others think, and hopefully I can tap into your guys’ knowledge and experience. So here’s the hypothetical question…if you had to do it all over again, what career would you choose? Would it be different from what you are actually doing? If so, why?

This is considering all factors, including salary, hours per week, etc. - not necessarily just the career that would be most “fun”.


Go to college. Complete Airforce ROTC. Become a Fighter Pilot. Profit!

I got into my general field when I suddenly bailed on neuroscience graduate school. I started out as an IT business systems analyst and later moved into consulting which is similar work on a broader scale. I work at the intersection of business and IT. I do a lot of things including business analysis (how to use technology to solve business problems), programming in a few different languages, technical writing, management guidance, troubleshooting and some training.

It can be intellectually challenging and you can add on as many new skills as you want. Certain skills can command $$$. I work for a consulting company technically but I have only talked to them twice in the 5 months I have worked for them. They mainly find consultants placement, handle the HR issues, payroll and scoop a big chunk off the top. After 8 years in the business I can earn $50 an hour as a guaranteed 40 - 55 hour work week. That translates into a little over $100K a year for me. Top consultants can make much more especially on specialized short-term contracts.

A lot of similar consultants with fewer skills make down to $30 hour (60k year). Salaried positions generally bottom out in the high 40’s straight out of school. The work is pretty autonomous in general and even more so because most people outside the field can’t understand what you actually do.

There are consulting positions for people straight out of college. Companies tend to recruit new grads from more prestigious schools with good grades. They may or may not train people much before they throw them into a company doing work like auditing or business analysis. Many of those types of positions can be grueling and lots of people burn out quickly. Those that make it, may have a bright future and good income ahead of themselves.

That was truly Plan#1 for me and I got all the way up to 1 1/2 years of ROTC before I learned the chances of actually becoming a fighter pilot were. Big gamble. Drop that and rethink.

If I had to do it all over again, I would prolly do the same thing I’m doing now.

I have no job, no boss, I make a great living, and I only work about 100 days a year (give or take).

I have plenty of time to snowboard, backpack, kayak, play guitar, and just generally goof off. I take naps nearly every day. I’m just about the only person I know who can say “I am exactly the person I have always wanted to be.”


I don’t know about career choices, but I dropped out of college to get married. THAT was a bad move. At 19, my husband and I were much too young to be mararied, even if we were legally adults. My advice is to hold off on marriage until at least your late 20s, when you have an idea of what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life. Don’t have kids until you’ve been married for a few years, also.

I would have worn that vintage red flapper dress.

Probably not the advice you are looking for, but if you have the body to pull off a genuine flapper dress in mint condition do it. Because you never know when the metabolism is going to start grinding the gears for the big slow down.

Life has a way of working out they way it should be, not the way you wanted it to be.

I would have gone to college. I could have been so many things…

Gone to Med School (Radiology) instead of Comp. Sci.

Everything would have been different then.

I probably should have stayed in school and followed my career heart instead of falling for the wrong guy and starting a family so young.

I’d probably be doing the same sort of stuff (tech support/IT geek), but I would have studied something in college that actually had anything at all to do with it, rather than getting a B.A. in Music.

I believe every decision I’ve made has lead me to where I am today, married to my husband and mother to my son and getting paid to post on the dope from an office in the coolest place on earth. That being said, I should have left Dowling College after my freshman year and transferred to SUNY Albany and worked harder in my studies and focused on a career goal instead of chasing unavailable men and changing majors till I found one I already knew all about. I should have also learned to drive way before I did.

What I originally did was make a mental list of “professions I think I’d like to work in” and drop mentions to professions from the list into conversations at home, to gauge my parents’ reaction (they had to pay for college or I simply couldn’t go, paying for your own college in Spain is near impossible, for Sciences and Engineering erase the “near”).

I’m hoping you don’t have to do that kind of cleaning up :slight_smile:

In order to get to the “I want” list, the choices had to:

  • be something you could use to make a living.
  • without becoming a teacher. I’m allergic to teaching in a class environment.
  • the majority of the “logical jobs” had to be things I could picture myself doing for many years.
  • the required coursework could not include anything I knew I’d absolutely hate and/or be unable to pass (this would take out “physical ed teacher” for example, not that it was ever close to the list).

What you study doesn’t set your next 40 years in concrete, being a “Business Software Consultant” is not something most people associate with a degree in “Chemical Engineering”, but I still think that the best way to choose a career is to look at jobs you’re most likely to get. It’s about those 40 years, not about the first 4.

I wouldn’t have taken it all so seriously.

I would have tried not to stress so much.

You got that right! I’m still working on it, of course, but the more I relax, the better I like my life.

Looking back at my High school experience, I had a choice. I could have let myself have the same kind of conduct in college (hold out on myself gradewise, be a wallflower, balk at trying anything new, etc) or I could spend that 4 years making up for 4 years of not doing enough in High School. I didn’t do that, but I really really wish I did. I also wish I decided on being a teacher back then, rather than spending 5 years putzing around, doing so-so, and only now going back and being at least somewhat serious about it. I feel like at the rate I am going, I am going to be thirty before I become a tenured teacher.

I would have worn sunscreen.

I would have majored in Pharmacy.

Perhaps at an out-of-state college.