There are more than 4 options for a successful career
Updated: Aug 7
This week’s post is written by Michelle Kwok of FLIK: Female Laboratory of Innovative Knowledge.
Up until I went to university, I genuinely thought there were four professions: doctor, lawyer, accountant, engineer. And to get to these coveted professions I would need to start preparing from Day 1 — there was no time to waste. For my eighth birthday, I received a stack of anatomy cards and a stethoscope and was told by my family that I would make a great doctor. There wasn’t really a need to think of any other potential professions.
From that point on, every language learned, instrument practiced, award won, AP class taken, and sports played were designed to put me on a straight track to medical school. I spent my summers performing research in infectious diseases at Imperial College London, neuroimaging at UBC, or paediatric gastroenterology at BC Children’s Hospital. Everytime I achieved something in medicine, I was praised by my community. Every time I achieved something elsewhere — silence.
“We both grew up in super traditional families where we were praised when we were “on path” to medical school, and if we ever did anything unexpected, that was considered a waste of time.”
This is not an uncommon story. Ravina went through the same thing. We both grew up in super traditional families where we were praised when we were “on path” to medical school, and if we ever did anything unexpected, that was considered a waste of time.
It was hard for us though. We’re both the kind of people who love diving into diverse subjects. Navigating passion for us isn’t a one-track-minded journey.
In university, even though I was a medical science student, I chased down every passion and learned so much more for it. I took on a variety of roles from helping manage a startup marketing agency to founding a youth-led charity which sends children in rural China to higher education. I also worked in sports business, collaborating with Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment and the Toronto Raptors. After that, I followed every university student's dream and worked for Bumble in marketing and events, as well as created student ambassador campaigns with alcohol brand Hey Y’all (because every uni student needs free alcohol right?). From there, I created events for women in leadership, and developed an event series around GenZ Social Entrepreneurship and mental health in partnership with the brands like Headspace and Nike. All the while, I was grinding for my organic chemistry finals and conducting medical research in the lab. Because who says you can’t have it all?
Ravina was much the same.
As a STEM student, Ravina spent her time studying genetics, obesity, and primates. But her desire to understand social needs and relationships inspired her to take extra courses in religion and politics. However, even these weren’t enough. Sitting in the front row of her lectures (of course), Ravina still was on Google looking for ways to create a tangible difference in the community to solve the problems she was learning about, instead of waiting for her degree to be over. She was eager to get going. So, Ravina founded a youth empowerment organization, YEGbyYouth, which has provided an outlet for 95,000 youth to gain support, confidence, and mentorship. She then worked alongside the United Nations, launched digital marketing campaigns, co-created events with TEDx, researched gender justice initiatives, and attended the Assembly of State Parties. Ravina also served as a City of Edmonton Youth Councillor, developing youth mental health initiatives, implementing medically supervised safe injection sites, proposed installation of solar panels on city hall, and wrote to City Council writing to lower the voting age. Wow, that was a mouthful eh?
We’re just THOSE kinds of people. We love learning. We love helping. But we also thought we were still on a narrow path.
It wasn’t until my third year that I thought, “I can give up one summer to try out this entrepreneurship thing.”
I applied for this entrepreneurship program called Next 36, not expecting to get in. But as fate would have it, they accepted me. And on top of that, they randomly roomed me with this girl….lo and behold… it was Ravina.
Our mentalities were the same: “We’re only in this program to learn something new and chase down a passion, but once that box is checked, we’ll be on the straight and narrow to medicine.”
Clearly, that changed.
“We pivoted to an apprenticeship portal to create tangible relationships between the female founders of today and those of tomorrow.”
We started building FLIK: Female Laboratory of Innovative Knowledge as a side hustle — just a way to interview and meet cool female founders. Then we pivoted to an apprenticeship portal to create tangible relationships between the female founders of today and those of tomorrow. Suddenly, this small side hustle accidentally turned into a 12-hour-a-day dedicated venture. Without knowing it, we had wholeheartedly devoted ourselves to FLIK and our community.
That was just six months ago when we decided we would go full-time for however long it would take to create large-scale impact and elevate women globally.
Even a year ago we both thought we would be doctors ASAP, and now we’re at the helm of FLIK, leading over 3000 womxn from 37+ countries around the world.
Life is crazy eh?
“We, more than many, know that life is not linear and plans don’t always go as you expect.”
Ravina and I were people who would plan their lives five years in advance, and now we’re entrepreneurs learning on the fly, frolicking around the tech scene with science degrees under our belts. We, more than many, know that life is not linear and plans don’t always go as you expect. But that’s the beauty of all of this, of forming your own career.
Life is a damn rollercoaster and if you’re not willing to go along for the ride, you might just miss your peak!
You could be on track to law school, engineering, computer science — whatever — but don’t be afraid to let a deep passion pull you away for a bit. You can always find your way back and most importantly, you’ll always wonder “what if”, if you don’t.
Know that it’s never too late. You can always educate yourself in the field. You don’t have to be an expert to take the leap. You just need the drive and the heart.
Get on that roller coaster and enjoy the ride :)
P.S. There are way more than four options for your career, go and find out for yourself!
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Until next week.
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