How early do you need to decide your career?

Recently a man came into Ava’s school to talk to the 8th grade students about their futures. He preached the importance of knowing what they want to do with their life. The man asked the students to raise their hands if they knew exactly, or roughly, what they wanted to do with their lives. While a large majority of the class raised their hand to this, Ava did not. Which leads to the question:

How early do you need to decide your career?

Daughter Says:

Throughout my entire schooling career I have been asked what I want to be when I grow up. Just to be clear, I’m not using the word, “entire” lightly. In my very first year of preschool we had a day where the teachers brought out career costumes and told us to pick one. There’s a picture of it and everything. You can even see my disappointment in not being able to be the police officer.

I am a veterinarian. And not happy about it.

Throughout my life I have wanted to be an actress, writer, doctor, lawyer, programer, singer, etc. I have realized that none of my career ideas stick for long. And I have lost interest in trying to come up with something for other people to label me as.

I’m not saying that having an idea of a possible career is bad, or unrealistic. In fact, many good things have come from my career exploring. For example, in 5th grade I wrote an entire screenplay based on a book my teacher read to us called The Great Turkey Walk. My screenplay is 40 pages long.

After I finished the screenplay, my dad told his friend Matt Ackley, who writes screenplays for a living. Weeks later, Mr. Ackley sent me three movie scripts with strong female protagonists, and an encouraging letter. You have no idea how exciting it is for an 11-year old to get a package from Hollywood.

However, despite my opinion on this topic, times are changing. So many kids are labeling what they want to do so early, that even if you figure out what career you want to pursue your junior year of high school, you’re late to the game.

Schools are putting too much pressure on kids at too early of an age. And when those kids start their careers, many of them realize just how much time they’ve wasted, instead of basking in the freedom of the unknown.

Dad Says:

It is not important to know what you want to do with your career at an early age. However, it is important to consider your options. You should keep looking and considering careers until you find something that really excites you.

Very few people know enough in middle school to decide on a career. In middle school I wanted to be a rapper. Or a truck driver. Or a rapping truck driver, delivering loads of rhymes from coast to coast.

Some people think they know what they want to do with their career in high school. I thought I did. But after 3 semesters of college, the career I thought I would go into held no interest to me anymore.

So I took a wide variety of classes to see what sparked my interests. It was in that 4th semester that I discovered my love for psychology and journalism. I knew that I didn’t want to be a psychologist. Because I knew I would want to make jokes about people’s problems, rather than simply asking, ‘And how did that make you feel?’

But the advertising courses within the school of journalism at The University of Wisconsin grabbed my interest, and I knew I had found my thang.

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I love advertising. But I didn’t decide to make it my career until my last 2 years of college.

My point isn’t that you find your career path during the spring of your sophomore year of college. My point is that you have to be exposed to a lot of different stuff to see what really excites you. And that takes time.

The key is to constantly ask yourself, what am I great at? And, what do I love to do?  And, what do I want my life to look like. You should ask those 3 questions over and over. They will help direct you down the path you were meant to travel. #FindYourYellowBrickRoad

You Says:

We want to know what you think. Are you a student who has no idea what you want to do with your career? An adult, deep into a happy and successful career, who can tell us the secret to discovering your calling? Or an adult who regrets making such a big decision early on? Leave a comment and let us know what you know.

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