Zettelkasten Forum


Project stuck: Choosing a career

A bit of background information may be useful. I'm from Uruguay. I graduated from high school with an engineering degree, then requested inscription for the faculty of engineering.

However, I was a poor learner back then. Imagine short-term memorization on steroids. Effective short-term, not at all long-term. In other words, I remember nothing. Not even what an atom is.

I'm not sure if this is important, but I'm adding it in case it is.

I'm taking a gap year and now I'm working on choosing a career to pursue. I don't have the research skills necessary to get anywhere with this, so I don't know where to even begin. Also, at the same time, I can't do research on how to do research. Thus, I'm double stuck, if that's even possible.

I've tried looking on Google, Reddit, and Wikipedia. Didn't help. Too much information, some of it not actionable, and I don't even know which is trustworthy.

Any tips on how to get unstuck with this project? If research isn't important to complete it, some advice or resources on research would be helpful too. Research skills are crucial for most of what I do.

Comments

  • edited October 6

    @Dilan_Zelsky

    Most schools and some local governments (at least in Canada and the U.S.) have excellent counseling services to address exactly what you are asking. This can involve one-on-one counseling and advice; testing for aptitude, skills and interests; good resources (books and electronic); group discussions (these can be particularly useful, even if they don't sound like it); and in later stages, interviews and discussions with those in the work place. This can all be accessed through and organized by the same service. I encourage you to tap into these kind of resources - it's not something I'd leave up to Google or strictly on-line trolling for information, nor to researching in isolation from others. There are people who have studied and qualified to provide just this kind of counseling. And a lot of it is free for the asking.

  • I'll give free advice. Take it for what it is worth.

    Consider writing. You seem to have a propensity for it. I am just saying! Writing opens opportunities to do research on your terms and not limit you to the IEEE world. Writing also keeps one from becoming a "cog in the machine." Use your engineering background to launch into technical writing. Heaven knows that the engineering field needs skilled writers. Then consider branching out into creative non-fiction to explain engineering advancements to the general public. Then consider a fiction project, maybe a historical fiction featuring the mother of the Internet, Ida Holz.

    Pave your own path.

    Will Simpson
    I'm a zettelnant.
    Research areas: Attention Horizon, Productive Procrastination, Dzogchen, Non-fiction Creative Writing
    kestrelcreek.com

  • I'm with @Will. While it may not make you money right away, writing is something you might want to make some time for. You've got the chops, as we say.

  • Can also echo what @GeoEng51 wrote -- in Germany, we too have counseling services that on the surface/in their advertising oddly look a lot like a shallow form of therapy, but actually do other things like helping with getting unstuck in general. Can recommend talking to them and doing some of their exercises if "just reading online" isn't providing you with anything useful.

    Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

  • edited October 7

    To be honest with you two, @ctietze and @GeoEng51, part of the reason why I was doing researh on my own terms was out of distrust. I distrusted counseling because it appeared, as Christian nicely put it, "a shallow form of therapy."

    Good to know that I was wrong. I'll definetly look into counseling. Much appreciated. :smile:

    In regards to writing, @Will and @taurusnoises, what an interesting idea! I'll do just that. That way, I'll make use of my skills, get into research (Yay!), aid the engineering field, and not become a "cog in the machine" like I feared.

    By the way, do any of you have advice on getting started as a writer? Besides creating Zettels and writing fiction, of course. Advice on that would be awesome, specially coming from experienced people like you. :smile:


    Edit: Forgot to mention something.

  • By the way, do any of you have advice on getting started as a writer?

    Blog. I cut my teeth on writing posts over the past 20 years, and it's what taught me how to get in and get out of ideas and arguments. Also, blogs are back! So, it's good timing.

    As for what to write about.... That's up to you. But, if you already have a notes/zettel audience, you can always start with that. Or, if you have an audience elsewhere, you can write for them. You dont need an audience, but it's nice,and helps with motivation.

  • @Dilan_Zelsky

    "Counseling" means "provide professional advice about a problem" (Oxford Dictionary). But there are many connotations to the word. Some, when they hear the word, think of it in a negative way, possibly when they associate it with the concept of getting therapy for mental issues or behaviour problems. But it can also have a positive connotation, for example when associated with the strict definition of the word - you have a problem; someone has the knowledge and resources to help you solve it.

    I was not thinking, as @ctietze mentioned, of counseling that appeared to be a shallow form of therapy. In Canada, there are centers that are devoted to "career counseling". There is no therapy involved and the only attention they pay to your behaviour is in how it might affect your performance in a job interview.

    Typically, when you go to such a center, they do or can do the following (approximately in order):

    1. Get you to fill out a questionnaire that tells them what you are interested in doing and why you are at the center.
    2. Test you to determine your aptitudes and skills.
    3. Using steps 1 and 2, potentially discuss with you a few careers that might be of interest.
    4. Expose you / show you how to use a vast library of information on what is involved in pursuing different careers - what education is needed, what specific jobs you might do, what skills are needed for those jobs, etc.
    5. Line you up with other people having similar interests. Sometimes this results in one-on-one discussions, sometimes in group discussions. The intent is to get ideas from other people who are looking at similar careers and share experiences.
    6. Providing training on how to write resumes and letters of interest or introduction.
    7. Providing training and practice on how to network. The practice could be role playing or real life assignments (go, do, come back and report how it went - particularly useful in group discussions, with other people trying to do the same thing that you are). Developing this skill is absolutely essential to finding a satisfying job / career and in being happy in the workplace. I don't care if you are "shy" or not (I am) - you have to learn this skill!!!
    8. Providing training and practice on carrying out interviews, with the same options as the previous item.
    9. Introducing you to people who have actual work experience in the career / job you are considering, or teaching you how to make those contacts. Discussions with people in that situation are extremely helpful and they may even turn into valuable networking resources.

    Does any of this sound like "shallow therapy" to you? I hope not. These items are all designed to teach you practical skills for deciding what career you want to pursue, how to get the right education, and how to actually get a job - how you use it depends where you are in the process.

    Note while doing the above that you can share your "journey" with friends and family members, who will of course have all sorts of advice for you. You can take or leave the advice, but the sharing is important.

    While this isn't my area of expertise, my wife and I did spend 2 years on a service mission in Australia teaching self-reliance skills. This type of training and counseling was a large part of what we did. If you can access a similar service where you live, particularly one that is professional and can handle at least all the aspects listed above, you could get some great direction for your work life. It may take some time - months or even a year or two - but it would be time well spent.

    None of this detracts from just picking a passion or direction in life and pursuing it. But it doesn't really matter whether you already know what you want to do or if you are still figuring it out, the above process is still applicable.

    In terms of "how long does it take for me to figure out what I want to do in life?", I have watched 5 children and now some grandchildren try to answer that question. Most of them have followed some version of what I described above and all of them have pursued post-secondary (i.e., post high school) education. Some of them just went for it and ended up in an enjoyable career (I have a daughter-in-law who is an auto mechanic - she loves it) and some of them have wandered around a bit, changing direction either in their education or in their career pursuits. It doesn't matter - it's all good education and experience, especially if we end up in a place where we are happy.

    Keep in mind also that most people nowadays will go through several career changes (sometimes even major ones) in their lives - that means going through the above process several times as well!

  • @taurusnoises

    I didn't think of blogging. What a great idea!

    I'll do that as soon as the tides goes out.

    @GeoEng51

    I could have done research on counseling. Wonder why that elluded my monkey brain.

    Anyways, I really appreciate you opening my eyes about it and sharing all this wonderful advice, specially on networking. I'm introvert to the bones, so if networking is crucial, then I'll need to gain knowledge on that.

    If it doesn't bother anyone, I may share the progress around here. I don't have friends to share anything with and my parents are dysfunctional. Besides, I want to give back however I can.

  • I am a big fan of Newports appraoch that he lined out in Be So Good They Can't ignore You.

    To add to it: Connect what you are good at with what people want. Humble yourself by ignoring what you think you love (this is the trap of the ego). Work very hard to become better (I personally had 90 hour weeks for some years which is doable if you have something that is more important than yourself).

    If you are on the right track you will be blessed by developing deep love (the hint of the self) to what you are doing. Deep love is very different from passion. Passion is what gives you the tingles when you see a person. Deep love gifts you with becoming truly one with another person and erases the difference in doing something for yourself and for the other.

    One of the best demonstrations of ego trap are athletes:

    I am a Zettler

  • edited October 9

    Connect what you are good at with what people want @sfast

    Do you have any tips regarding accurately figuring out what you are good at instead of just following passion?

    Being conscious in this way seems to have a lot of trap doors that quickly lead you to very subjective views/impressions of yourself. Experiences over your life time (positive/negative feedback from teachers, other people saying you are good/bad at x) also factor in as your self-esteem might be quite low even though you could be good at x if only you ignored the haters and made a proper effort.

    Zettelkasten is love. Zettelkasten is life.

  • @JoshA

    It is a pyramid that you need to climb. Start with what you think is the best you can do and keep at it.

    It helps if you have the best worst friend. I, for example, really hates it when a friend of mine belittles him- or herself. And if you try to belittle yourself and are my friend I will come down on you like Genghis Khan's horde on Europe.

    But it comes down to finding the first step you can take. If you cannot see yourself in an honest enough light because of to low self-esteem you need to work on this first until you ability to reflect is sufficient.

    I am a Zettler

  • Thank you for your words, @sfast. This came just in the right time.

    I'll make sure to shoot for deep love instead of passion. Good thing @Will and @taurusnoises gave me a headstart.

    If I'm not asking for too much, could you give me a hint on dealing with an ambitious pursuit? It's closely related to my issue with finding a career.

    I have a life-long desire: To cure the world. It's fucked up and in many ways. E.g.: Dysfunctional families, tobacco manufacturers, hunger, racism, etc.

    I wrote a note long ago that I thought could be a "pillar" for the solution. The first paragraph reads:

    I imagine a world where you must pass a test to raise or have children. You'd be constantly monitored to ensure that you can give them everything deemed necessary. Otherwise, you'll lose them and be punished.

    What are your thoughts?

  • edited October 10

    If I'm not asking for too much, could you give me a hint on dealing with an ambitious pursuit? It's closely related to my issue with finding a career.
    I have a life-long desire: To cure the world. It's fucked up and in many ways. E.g.: Dysfunctional families, tobacco manufacturers, hunger, racism, etc.

    You can only raise other people and the world surrounding you up to your level. So raise your personal level and become whole before you put hands on anything that is complex.

    I witnessed all to many people going into therapy while the therapist was him-/herself in pathetic emotional state and the results were accordingly.

    (My tipp: Make yourself familiar with Paul Chek)

    I imagine a world where you must pass a test to raise or have children. You'd be constantly monitored to ensure that you can give them everything deemed necessary. Otherwise, you'll lose them and be punished.

    This would put me on a warpath to overthrow the tyranny that would be necessary to implement such a policy.

    I am a Zettler

  • @Dilan_Zelsky

    I support @sfast ’s recommendation of Cal Newport’s book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You. I was so impressed with it that I created a number of zettels (not zillions, but probably 10 or so, which is way more than what I normally distill out of a book). You can get it here (apologies if providing links to Amazon is not allowed):

    https://www.amazon.ca/Good-They-Cant-Ignore-You-ebook/dp/B0076DDBJ6/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1XBVXUXU1C78T&dchild=1&keywords=so+good+they+can't+ignore+you+-+cal+newport&qid=1633920460&sprefix=Cal+Newport+so+,aps,236&sr=8-2

  • @JoshA

    To find out what you are good at….start with a survey of yourself - you can list what you think you are good at, then ask some of your “good” (I.e., honest) friends to do the same. And ask anyone you’ve worked for - they will have special insights. That’s a start. Once you’ve got some ideas, try some things - trial and error are great teachers. Wander around a bit in different work experiences or education experiences. Do stuff. Keep getting feedback from others. You don’t have to be in a rush but you don’t have to turn it into a multi-year research project, either.

  • @sfast

    You can only raise other people and the world surrounding you up to your level. So raise your personal level and become whole before you put hands on anything that is complex.

    I witnessed all to many people going into therapy while the therapist was him-/herself in pathetic emotional state and the results were accordingly.

    (My tipp: Make yourself familiar with Paul Chek)

    Makes sense. I will do as you said.

    Thank you so much. :smile:

    I imagine a world where you must pass a test to raise or have children. You'd be constantly monitored to ensure that you can give them everything deemed necessary. Otherwise, you'll lose them and be punished.

    This would put me on a warpath to overthrow the tyranny that would be necessary to implement such a policy.

    Fair enough.

  • @GeoEng51

    While I'm interested in the book, I'm not sure if I could read it. I'm against a tight deadline. Besides, I already have projects running and others that I'm certain I will turn active.

    So, would reading this book be useful right now? Consider that I'll get counseling, I already know what I'm good at, and I know that I should seek to help others.

    Just curious since you recommend it and have already read it.

  • edited October 11

    @Dilan_Zelsky said:

    While I'm interested in the book, I'm not sure if I could read it. I'm against a tight deadline. Besides, I already have projects running and others that I'm certain I will turn active.

    So, would reading this book be useful right now? Consider that I'll get counseling, I already know what I'm good at, and I know that I should seek to help others.

    Just curious since you recommend it and have already read it.

    It's an interesting book and can be read fairly quickly - as long as you are not trying to extract a bunch of zettels from it :wink: That said, it's not something that you have to read right away. You might try reading a few chapters and then if it sparks your interest, finish it. If it doesn't, wait and try again later. You don't have to worry about extracting ideas the first time through, just read and get a sense of his message. You can go back and give it the full treatment when you have time and inclination.

    Following is my opening zettel on this book, which will give you a very high level sense of what it is about - from my perspective, of course (by the way, this isn't all the zettel; I've left off the end with external links and references, which in this case were self-evident). This may help you to decide whether or not to pursue it right away, but keep in mind if Cal Newport could have written the book in 300 words, he would have :wink:

  • @Dilan_Zelsky said:
    I have a life-long desire: To cure the world. It's fucked up and in many ways. E.g.: Dysfunctional families, tobacco manufacturers, hunger, racism, etc.

    When you face a problem, you're likely not alone. When you reach out to others that share similar interests, you'll meet people you like and people you don't like. You can learn from the experience from others, while taking part of it, figuring out what works and what doesn't. Choosing a career in this field is also possible.

    What are your thoughts?

    Loss and punishment does not bring people together, it brings them apart. You'd end up curing a part of the world by moving problems from one place to another.

    The book does not address the challenges introverts are facing, like overcoming shyness and reaching out to people, but it also does not depend on such skills.

    It is also not an extension on what you get from counselling, i'd be surprised if it is.

    Use of the term passion is overloaded in counselling, job hunting and career, giving it an aftertaste. This book offers a controversial viewing angle on conventional wisdom, which makes it stand out and gives you something to think about and compare to. I don't know it it is useful to you, it could mix well with your current plans.

    my first Zettel uid: 202008120915

  • @GeoEng51

    Thank you for elaborating.

    I pass for now. It doesn't seem useful for my project, but it might be relevant later on.

  • @zk_1000

    I decided that I'll pass on the book. But, your comment makes me consider reading it later.

    @zk_1000 said:

    Choosing a career in this field is also possible.

    Interesting. I'll make sure to bring this up during the counseling. Thanks for mentioning this.

    @Dilan_Zelsky said:

    What are your thoughts?

    @zk_1000 said:

    Loss and punishment does not bring people together, it brings them apart. You'd end up curing a part of the world by moving problems from one place to another.

    Actually, the "What are your thoughts?" was referring to this:

    @Dilan_Zelsky said:

    ...could you give me a hint on dealing with an ambitious pursuit?

    Bad wording I guess.

    However, I appreciate your view on my idea. I see that it's not the right solution to the problem.

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