The most basic question we are asked in our childhood is, “What do you want to become when you grow up?”. I remember giving different answers to this question – doctor, engineer, musician, and even a policeman (because I would be able to carry a gun). With time, my answers kept on changing, but deep inside I never really knew what I wanted to become when I grow up, nor did I ever plan it. I am sure most of you can relate to this. I know you can relate to it because I have not really seen any of my friends or relatives actually doing what they said they wanted to do when they were children.
School and education had to be the number one priority for us. SLC used to be the biggest thing that mattered. Well, that’s what they said. I have studied different fields after my SLC – Science, Technology, and Business, to be specific. I studied Science in plus two, IT in Bachelor’s, and I have a Master’s Degree in Business.
Now, I’m not trying to brag about my degrees here. Trust me, I could care less about the degrees. But I did not know this back then. I have worked for a Software company as a Database Engineer and I am currently working at a Merchant Banking company as a Research Analyst. My fields of work have also been completely different.
Why did I choose all these different fields of study and work?
I really don’t have a good answer to this question. But, I can tell you this much – I did what I thought was right at the moment. Today, I have zero regrets. There have been some advantages and disadvantages of my choices. But, I took them as a lesson and I am going to share the five things I learned from studying and working in different fields.
1. You will Have More Knowledge
This one is obvious. If you study different fields, you will have knowledge about each of those fields. I have studied the toughest subjects during my plus two days. Even though I don’t still remember most of them, I know that they were tough. You can never really know everything you studied unless you are a superhuman or a genius like Sheldon Cooper. But, you will at least have the idea of what each one is about.
This is a good thing if you are really looking for what you want to do in life. Once you get to know all these areas, I’d say you will have more options to choose from. It’s always an advantage to have more knowledge. For instance, I know about the different areas of Technology and what each of them is about. Although I am not a tech professional, I still know the basics and the general things about each part of technology. After my MBA, I also have a broad knowledge of Marketing, Finance, and I can write a full-fledged business plan.
2. More Options
If you are not sure about what you want to do in the future, it’s really a good idea to explore multiple fields. Having basic knowledge about a specific field can guide you to further expand your knowledge in that particular field. You can choose a career in any of the fields you want later.
I worked for about a year and a half for a software company, where I worked in different departments. If I had wanted, I could have continued working there and specialized in a particular area of Software development. I quit the company to pursue my Master’s degree. I specialized in Finance. Now, I have a choice to work in Finance, which I am currently doing. I also have the option to quit Finance and go for Marketing, Business Development, and other areas of business management. I can even start my own business.
3. Learn New Things
When you step into a completely new field, everything is going to be new for you. It will be like a different world, which you didn’t know existed. This is exactly what happened to me when I enrolled for my MBA. I’d never studied Business or Management in my life. I only knew the names of a few subjects of management like economics, accounts, marketing, and finance. Back then, I didn’t even know the difference between Accounts and Finance. I thought they were the same thing.
A person like me, who didn’t even know what finance or accounts is, I not only specialized in Finance but also got a job in the same field. During my MBA, I found out that when you are about to learn a completely new topic, you must not think that you will be left behind because everyone else who came from the same field will be a step ahead of you. It is all about how you take it and how eager you are to learn about it. I was always keen to learn new topics. I decided to study MBA thinking that I will be starting a business in the future, but I ended up specializing in finance because I thought the subject was quite fascinating.
4. Knowledge about Technology is Always an Advantage
The one thing that has helped me the most throughout my career so far is my knowledge of Technology, and I know it will come in handy in the future as well.
With fast-growing technologies, you should have the knowledge of at least the basics of technology. It will never be a disadvantage to you. However, you need to stay updated with it because it grows really fast. In my current job, I am more involved in technology-related work than finance-related work. Because I am from the technology background, anything that comes up at work which is related to technology, I am wanted.
When I see people who cannot even install a simple software into their computers, I feel grateful that I studied and worked in the Tech field. The Internet is accessible everywhere these days. So even if you are not from the technology background, I suggest you make good use of the Internet and learn at least some basic skills. Trust me, we are living in a golden age where there is nothing that you cannot find on the Internet.
5. Don’t be All Over the Place
As I said before, knowing a lot of things can also be a disadvantage at times. You cannot do be doing everything at once. If you try to do so, you won’t really succeed. We need to focus on one thing at a time and stick to something that we really want to do.
For me, pursuing my MBA and studying finance made me want to work in this field. Now, I am sticking to it. Yes, I do the technology-related work as well. For instance, I am currently learning UI designing. But, I prioritize my work accordingly. I’m not doing both at the same time. It’s not like I am writing codes and preparing an equity research report at the same time. I know what my ultimate goal is.
What I am trying to say is, you will have to stick to a particular field of work and you have to be the best at it. To be the best you will have to collectively use the knowledge of everything you have studied and experienced in the past.
I recently read this article in the Harvard Business Review which suggests that you should have at least two different careers. The writer says that you don’t have to cut-off one career to start another. He says you can do both. I totally agree with him. What I like about the article is that the writer clearly says in the beginning to subsidize your skill development. This is an important point to consider. If you are planning to pursue multiple careers, you need to be able to sustain your career choices – both financially and skill-wise. He says that one of his careers supported the other. The article basically tries to say that you need to be skillful and only then, you will be able to start multiple careers. You cannot do little of this and little of that.
You need to be passionate about whatever you do and you need to give your best at it. I think it is a matter of time as well. Can you really take the time off of your existing career to start another, let alone do both? Time, skill, and money – these are the things you would need to balance if you really want to pursue careers in multiple fields.