Whether you’ve known what you wanted to be since you were a kid or have no clue what’s next, your later teen years are the time to prepare for your career. Part of that consideration should be how your bleeding disorder will affect your choices. Read here for tips.
Be smart about your education. If your career path is set—perhaps you’re a would-be marketing director who’s always loved sales—applying to colleges with specialized programs is helpful. By contrast, if your future is unclear, listen to advice from others. “If you have no idea what you want to do, go to a school that has a solid liberal arts program. Then you’ll have options,” says Lisa Orbé-Austin, PhD, a psychologist, executive coach and partner at Dynamic Transitions Psychological Consulting, LLP, in New York City. In-demand careers include those in healthcare and technology, she adds. Studying liberal arts introduces you to a variety of subjects. And you’ll be able to transfer these skills into various fields.
Attend an accredited college whose credits will transfer if needed, says Don Molter, MSEd, a veteran career counselor at the Indiana Hemophilia & Thrombosis Center in Indianapolis. “Beware of for-profit schools that may not be accredited. And be open to a junior college at first,” he adds. A junior college, or community college, will help you save money, which is important because you have medical expenses to consider, too, he says. It will also let you explore different subjects without a huge financial fallout. “Be careful and do your research,” says Molter. (Schools that exist only for profit typically don’t accept federal grants and prefer private loans, which usually have higher interest rates.)
Take action and network. You’ll need to do more than dream about what you’ll be doing five years from now. “You want to volunteer, seek out information and have mentors,” Orbé-Austin explains.
Volunteering and job shadowing can help shape your future career path. “Job shadowing can be done in half a day or a couple of hours,” Molter says. “If you want to work in a hospital, follow a doctor or a nurse.” These visits will help you be realistic about the requirements and activities of a particular job. You’ll see firsthand which aspects of the job you like or dislike.
Consider your health. Health insurance and sick leave are important benefits when you’re considering jobs. Confirm your benefits through the human resources department before accepting a position, says Molter.
Also consider the job setting and level of activity you can handle. A factory or warehouse may be more dangerous than an office. Traveling can be difficult because you may experience more bleeds or lack access to an HTC. If you have severe hemophilia, a physical job as a paramedic, nurse or vet tech may not be a good fit. However, working as a health writer or lab tech may be fine.
“In general, be realistic,” Molter advises. “Focus on what you’re good at, and talk to your HTC doctor about what you want to do.”