Career and Money Advice At The Intersection Of Business And Technology

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From laid-off dot com worker to medical doctor

June 4th, 2009 · 3 Comments

This is a true story.

Joe and I worked together at a high-flying, ventured backed start-up during the dotcom bubble. Joe just finished his undergraduate degree in Business Administration when he got the job offer from the start-up.

As the start-up was burning through cash and hiring one employee a day, a lot of the employees were idle. Joe and I would take long walk to the local Jamba Juice store, talking about our career and life plans.

Six months later, Joe was laid off. As most laid-off workers were looking for jobs, Joe couldn’t get himself excited about getting another job in the high tech industry. He simply felt that his heart was not there.

Joe was a hard worker in school. He chose Business Administration as the major because he thought it was the right thing to do. With a degree from one of the top ranked undergraduate business programs, he knew he would be able to get good jobs and live comfortably.

But, deep inside, Joe knew that he wanted to do something else. His altruistic nature had been telling him that he wanted to be a doctor.

So, Joe was at a cross road right after he was laid off.

He couldn’t get excited about getting another job. He wanted to become a doctor. But, he didn’t take any pre-med class in college. He would have to take all of the pre-requisite classes before he could even apply medical school. He didn’t have whole lot of saving. And there is no guarantee that he would be accepted into medical school.

The risk is high — it would take him 2-3 years to get ready to apply medical school with little or no income, not mentioning the opportunity cost. And there was no guarantee of success.

Many of Joe’s former colleagues and friends were skeptical of what Joe was trying to do.

But, Joe was determined. He moved in with his parents to lower his expenses. He got a couple of part-time jobs so that he could earn some money. He started taking a couple of classes at the local college.

He also started researching and strategizing how he could increase his chance to get into medical school. He soon realized that given his background, he needed to build a very strong post-undergraduate academic record, he needed to have solid research experience, and he needed to have something extra on his resume.

Joe made a very difficult decision. Instead of staying with his parents, he moved across-the-country to attend one of the most prestigious post-college pre-med program. The tuition and one-year living expense would cost him almost his entire saving.

Joe studied extremely hard. He also got two research positions at the medical school nearby. He founded a non-profit organization. He volunteered at the hospital.

He didn’t waste a single minute at this new city — he was racing against time to get ready to apply medical school.

A year passed quickly. Joe got solid grades. Once he returned home, he continued to volunteer, and grow his non-profit organization while he prepared for the MCAT.

Joe applied several schools. He was accepted by arguably the best medical school in the world three years after he was laid off and made up his mind to change his career. This year, Joe will graduate with a M.D.

Are you dissatisfied with your current career? Have you always wanted to try something else? Is there an inside voice telling you that your heart is at somewhere else?

Life is too short. You should listen to your heart once, and follow the calling. With the right amount of preparation, determination, discipline, persistence and optimism, you’ll be able to make the career switch. We all owe ourselves to maximize our potentials, and choose a career that enriches our soul, heart, and mind.

Keep dreaming, and start take action now to fulfill your dream.


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Tags: Career Transition · Learning and Growing

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Pete // Jun 5, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Very inspirational

  • 2 lisa // Jun 6, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Thanks for sharing this story. I remember you mentioned this friend's path before. It is wonderful that he made his journey and is graduating with M.D this year. Congrats to his determination and triumph !

  • 3 lisa // Jun 6, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks for sharing this story. I remember you mentioned this friend's path before. It is wonderful that he made his journey and is graduating with M.D this year. Congrats to his determination and triumph !

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