Many young people think they know what industry or category of job they want. They’re mostly wrong.
We’re trained by the school and university process to think in terms of big career categories and majors. Marketing. Hospitality. Management. Financial Services. But these categories are so generic and ill-defined that they offer almost no value for an individual trying to forge a path to life and career success.
The truth is, you have no idea what industry or job will make you happy. How could you? You’ve barely seen any of them up close. The roles within these industry labels can be more diverse than you can imagine. Many jobs and entire industries have no label. Many more will emerge that don’t yet exist.
The good news is that this is good news. Opportunity abounds, and what major you pick or what label you spit out when someone asks what you want to do are of little importance. You have massive flexibility and a chance to explore and experiment. You can even create new roles that no one ever thought of.
Stop stressing about it. Don’t fret over getting an internship that perfectly aligns with your imagined industry of choice. As long as you’re not doing something you hate, you’re heading in the right direction. You don’t know what you’ll discover. You can’t learn it from a course catalog or guidance counselor. You’ve got to engage the world and see what you respond to and what responds to you.
Not only that, but it is well documented that ‘outsiders’ are most likely to innovate. If you go directly from a finance major to an investment banking internship and then job, you’ll have experiences and knowledge identical to nearly everyone you work with. If you first spend a few years working at a software startup, building a network of owners of financial service businesses, then transition into investment banking, you’ll have a perspective and paradigm that makes you truly unique. You’ll have a network that most of your peers lack. You’ll be able to do that thing which is the holy grail of the creative process, and create a new intersection of separate matrices of thought.
Your theories about what industry or job fits you are like all theories. They need to be tested. Go try some stuff. Anything you don’t dislike is fair game. You might discover new roles you never thought of. You might invent and new industry or join it as it emerges. You might gain a distinct advantage and a unique outlook, network, and experience set by working somewhere unlikely first.
Don’t try to pick your industry yet. In fact, don’t ever pick one. Just do interesting stuff.