Chidochashe Chola: how my idea of a career has changed since leaving high school

Newly-appointed Student Ambassador Chidochashe Chola gives us a very personal view of what career success really means, and how our view on what constitutes success evolves as we progress through life…


It’s the most common question we get when we are younger: what do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want to do with your life when you leave your parents’ house?

And of course, as young people filled with so much excitement and passion, we say things like rock stars, astronauts, you name it! And then the older we get, we go with the classics: I want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher. It’s an evolving concept.

When I was younger, filled with more passion and childlike innocence, I thought of a career in terms of what would get me the most money or the most success. When I was in high school, I viewed my career as what would define me in my adult years; so I, like many others, thought about it from a dollar sign view of success, very traditional. However, I am pleased that my view has changed completely.

When I got to university, I was a prelaw student, ready to complete my four years and then go off to law school. I was prepared for the traditional route, but then something changed; I realized like many of my other peers that we were being educated in the midst of a cultural revolution in the workforce, the birth of start-ups, serious tech innovation, and a shift from traditional corporate America to the creation of Silicon Valley.

“I went from wanting to once be a rock star, to a lawyer, to now wanting to change the face of hospitality in my home country, Zambia, a place where this industry isn’t the strongest.”

Chidochashe Chola

An awakening in the “Big Apple”

This new revolution led me to become more curious about different fields and disciplines of my studies, and what career they could lead me to. I took part in courses from psychology to gender and women studies. I returned to my childhood passion of theater and took part in acting classes and theater productions. I was inspired to look beyond the traditional mindset I entered with. This helped me intern in New York City, the “Big Apple”, at the tech real estate in the middle of Manhattan, where the Aladdin Broadway show was our office’s neighbor. I was inspired and changed, and I decided to look at things from a whole new perspective: an exciting, passionate, and curious one.

My idea of a career now is entirely different. I no longer look at it as a means to what I will do in my adult life; no longer look at it as what I will do to make some money and live, but I look at a career as who I will be, what I love, what I am passionate about, what excites me.

I am thus a career changer. I am traditionally an economist, but I changed my career path and goals because I found a passion in hospitality and people, and I wanted that to be my reason for why I do what I do beyond my studying years. Being excited and passionate about a career will be the difference between a job and a life journey.

Nowadays, “find and follow your passion” are becoming more commonly encouraged practices – people are encouraging others to chase their passions and desires; and to be quite honest, I wish I had known this from the start, as I would’ve been in the hospitality game a very long time ago.

As I mentioned, it’s an evolving concept and thought, and I went from wanting to once be a rock star, to a lawyer, to now wanting to change the face of hospitality in my home country, Zambia, a place where this industry isn’t the strongest. I am no longer chasing tradition; I’m chasing my passions and I encourage many others to do so too.

  • You can hear more from Chidochashe in this feature, part of our recent special issue on “Leading women” in hospitality and beyond


Photo credits:
Main image by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash
Zambia sunset photo by Ian McGrory on Unsplash


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