“Following your curiosity rather than a career path/ladder/trajectory seems incredibly wise. To do otherwise, seems naive and thoughtless. Yes — the practicalities of life intrude. You need (more likely want) nice things that money buys. Money comes from jobs. More money comes from certain kinds of careers. (Or it did, leastways.) You’ll certainly be nudged strongly toward that career ladder to cover the $150,000 of education you now have to pay back. I’m sure that one would learn much more following one’s curiosity for that same $50,000 a year you’d spend at the football university..which costs that much so that the football team’s jet stays maintained and fueled..but I’ve gone over this before.
How do you follow your curiosity? I dunno — you just do. What’s a plan? A template? Maybe something like this:
Spend a year listening, reading, learning about a new practice. Find out who the thought leaders are and why. Ask everyone who is in the particular practice community three questions: (1) what’s your story? how’d you come to be who you are and do what you do? (2) who’s your hero in your field? (3) who else should I meet? Go to the trade conferences and dive deep. Listen to everything. Read everything. Filter by simple keywords. (I do design now. That’s my filter, design. If there is design in the title/abstract/conference, that’s my criteria for reading/attending/giving a talk.)
Spend the next year helping out and apprenticing. Be a humble servant, asking questions but also getting hands dirty and trousers scuffed. Be active, modest and become a learner. Move about, but focus on the nuances of the craft aspects of the practice community.
Another year making/creating/building on your own, whatever the field might be. Prepare to be a contributor in a more active way. Find a voice of your own. You would’ve created a network that knits you into the community by this time.
And subsequent years, refining and polishing that “voice.” Keep moving, refining, finding ways to continue to learn and bringing all the other bits of learning, the other “fields”, the other ways of knowing and seeing the world, all the other bounded disciplines — let them intrude and change things. Let things get rather undisciplined and a bit unruly. Disciplines are self-satisfied, with is akin to apathy, which never solved any problems.”