Why I’m Leaving Physical Therapy (Part 1)

I haven’t really shared my career transition with very many people. When I tell my friends and family, they are very supportive. I think they see how unhappy I am with my current line of work and understand how an actual STEM field is much, much better-suited to my personality, career goals and interests.

When I tell acquaintances, they’re a little less understanding. The typical response is something along the lines of, “But you’ve put so much time and effort into getting where you are!” Which is technically true. Eight years of school, $125,000 of student loan debt and nine years of physical therapy practice could be seen as “so much time and effort.” But the “…getting where you are…” is a bit of an over-statement. In the field of physical therapy, one tends to begin their career in patient care and end their career in patient care. There is really no room to advance one’s career.

I recently attended OSU’s Networking event on 1/25. Since this was my first time doing anything like this, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. I had the opportunity to learn more about companies I was interested in (Garmin, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Intel, HP) and visit with current employees about company culture and why they enjoyed working there. They also gave great advice on applying to jobs and internships.

The number one thing I was happy to hear, was how many of these companies had career ladders and opportunities for advancement. They expressed a sincere desire to retain and develop employees. They encouraged employees to make lateral moves and cross-train in other departments to develop a well-rounded view of the company and products. Some of them even offered generous tuition reimbursement programs and encouraged employees to go back to school and earn degrees or certificates to make them better engineers and developers.

I would love to end up at a company that values its employees and supports them in their development. I would love to reciprocate this support and make a positive impact on my future company. I think anyone would.

And while I may have spent “a lot of time and energy getting where I am,” I do not subscribe to the fallacy of sunk costs. A lot of time and energy is likely to be wasted, spending too long in an unhappy or unsupportive situation “just because I’ve come this far.” In short, this one goes out to all my fellow career-changers in the program. Let’s make a brighter future for ourselves!

Thank for attending my TED talk.

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