Getting a degree, whether it’s an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree, is a big commitment and a huge accomplishment. You have to spend lots of dedicated hours in a physical or virtual classroom, plus even more time studying and completing assignments for the course. Then, there’s the financial investment. But what happens when you get through your program and find you have degree regret?
Degree regret is a common problem. The good news? Your degree might be more versatile than you think. Here’s how you can turn degree regret into an incredible career opportunity.
Understanding Degree Regret
Degree regret (and career regret) is a source of shame and frustration for many people who experience it. After all, if you’ve devoted so many hours to a subject and then find out you don’t enjoy the job you wanted for so long, it can be pretty disheartening. Although it’s not discussed much, degree regret is a real problem that happens more often than people think.
So, why does it happen? A few reasons. First, many people have to choose their major before they fully know what they enjoy most. They might end up picking a major because they have a deadline and have to decide quickly.
Other graduates experience regrets due to changing interests or dissatisfaction with the available jobs or work environment. They might think that they want to become a chemical engineer, for instance, but realize that the work itself isn’t something they enjoy long-term.
Finally, some people regret their degree because of a lack of job prospects in their field. They struggle to find work that uses their degree and end up in a job they are overqualified for.
Experiencing career regret can be very difficult emotionally and financially. Whatever the reason for your career regret, it’s important to realize that wishing you’d chosen a different path isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it could ultimately lead you to your dream job.
Thinking Creatively: A New Perspective on Degrees
If you want to turn your degree regrets into a satisfying career, then you have to start by thinking about your training in a more positive way. Instead of thinking about your degree as a prerequisite for specific jobs that you’ve decided you no longer want, think of your knowledge as a base of skills you can apply to a variety of career paths.
When you go to college, you learn some hugely valuable and versatile skills, such as critical thinking, that can be applied to a wide variety of jobs. You’ll still be able to use many of the skills you gained in school, even if you pivot in your career. Think of the skills you learned in college like a cake: you learned how to make the basic cake and frosting during your degree program, but you get to decorate it any way you’d like!
Most essential career skills are learned through experience on the job, not necessarily through college coursework. College programs provide a good foundation for being successful in your career, but it’s no substitute for experience and on-the-job training. Remember, the real world is very different from academia.
Examples of Successful Career Pivots and Unconventional Paths
It’s all well and good to say that you need to take a fresh look at your skills to pivot successfully and use your degree to create a career path you love. But what does that really look like?
Well, it depends! There are lots of options to consider, depending on your interests and skills. Here are some examples, coming from two very specialized fields: sports and nursing.
With a sports focus, someone might consider becoming an athlete, coach, or sports analyst. However, those are only the obvious choices. Non-traditional sports careers might include fitness consulting, event management, sports marketing, sports journalism, teaching PE, and more. A background in sports can carry over well into these and other fields.
Nursing is an extremely stressful job that often leads to burnout, whether a registered nurse works in a hospital, clinic, or private practice. When nurses decide to stop working in a clinical role, they don’t necessarily have to retrain to get into a different career.
There are lots of lesser-known career paths within nursing or related to nursing. Some examples might include healthcare administration, medical writing, pharmaceutical sales, and many others. Demand for people who are trained in medicine is growing and there are countless opportunities out there.
Reconnect with Your Passion and Open Your Mind
It can be challenging to turn your degree regret around, but it’s the best way to reconnect with your passion and finally find the career that’s right for you. Go back to your roots and remember why you chose your area of study to begin with. Find the aspects of that field that you love and seek those out in your career exploration.
Don’t feel like getting your degree was a waste of time. Learning and growing your skill-set is always worthwhile. It might take some time to turn your degree regret into the perfect job opportunity, but trust that it will happen if you open your mind and shift your perspective!
Guest Author Bio
With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.