The Hedgehog Concept for Students

What should you be when you grow up?

Here’s a little bit of what I’ve learned in my few years of existence about choosing a career path: (1) choose what you love, (2) choose what you’re good at, and (3) choose what will sustain you.

1. What You Love

First and foremost, your work should at the very least be related to your passion. From nine to five for the rest of your life, you’re gonna be doing the same thing over and over again. If you aren’t driven to live out your career, you’re gonna burn yourself out. The word “passion” comes from an old Latin word meaning “suffering”. If you aren’t willing to suffer for sheer devotion to your job, find another one.

School offers lots of opportunities to explore life for your passion. If you find something you really like, dig around for something you like even more and keep digging until you find something you’ll never get tired of doing your whole life. Join orgs. Meet people. Get busy with extracurriculars.

2. What You’re Good At

Proficiency follows passion. If you love doing something, you’ll get better at it. In the context of career, get better at it, or else no one will care that you love it. As a friend once put it, “Get damn good.” If you can’t humbly say that you’re a cut above the rest when it comes to your passion, you might wanna work on your skills. Don’t worry about getting to the top. Just keep learning. Life doesn’t always favor the best anymore; life favors those who constantly get better. So never stop learning.

What better place to never stop learning than school? If you’re in university and already taking up your majors, it’s time to stop slacking off and start paying attention. Go the extra mile and do some research on your field. Your local library can be a big help, and so can Google and YouTube. Talk to people, especially those older and more skilled than you. Get mentored if possible. Along the way, nab as much experience and practice as you can.

3. What Will Sustain You

This doesn’t need a lot of explanation. You may be doing something you love and something you’re damn good at for your whole life, but if you aren’t earning yourself a living, you’re just gonna end up as a homeless enthusiast. I’m not saying you need a job that will make you rich. If you value doing what you love more than hoarding lots of money, then that’s fine. Just make sure you pick a field that can support you and your future family.

Here, I made a Venn diagram for you.

Disclaimer: I’m not saying these are the only factors that affect career potential. There’s also the discussion about mankind’s needs and making the world a better place. But as far as this eighteen-year-old student knows, these three factors should help when it comes to choosing a career path.

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