Thursday, September 29, 2011

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

This question’s been bothering me of late for a couple of reasons. I am the parent of a sixteen and a half year old who seems to have no real direction or ambition in life. On any given day, his career ambitions range from police officer to video game designer. With only two years of high school still to go, he’ll be in the job market soon. Like every parent, I’d love to be able to give him a road map, help set his feet on some firm path down which he can tread with the utmost confidence.

Okay. Reality check. Not only can I not do that, he also wouldn’t accept it.

The second reason why this question’s been bothering me is I am also a teacher, and over the past few years, I’ve realized how often adults ask this question of kids. So, I started thinking back to my own life and reflecting on how my ambitions have turned out to be kind of circular.
• Six years old – nurse
• Ten years old – teacher
• Twelve – archaeologist
• Thirteen – veterinarian
• Fifteen – artist
• Sixteen – writer
• Seventeen – (Parental pressure being applied) Journalist (foreign correspondent)
• Eighteen – television journalist
• College major – journalism

Now… let’s see how that stacks up with jobs I’ve held (including PT after school stuff)
• working in a horse boarding stable
• sales clerk in a drug store
• dorm cafeteria worker
• accounting clerk in college bookstore
• teaching assistant – German dept. and Journalism School
• Resident Assistant
• Summer replacement reporter/photographer ( two different TV stations)
• Reporter/anchor/producer
• TV News Producer (two different TV stations)
• Executive TV News Producer (two different TV stations)
• Freelance writer/producer
• Working in a horse boarding stable
• Debt collector
• Skip tracer
• TV news producer
• Senior Morning producer
• Freelance producer
• Newspaper reporter
• English teacher (two different schools, so far)
• Romance Writer

So how can I ask my child what he’s thinking about for a career? It looks to me like he’s not the only one trying to figure out what to be when he grows up.

Now, here’s the interesting thing. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t keep track of how many times people will change careers in their lifetime (I’m counting about 6 for me if I include returning to a previous career as a change), they have followed younger baby boomers (1957 – 1964) to determine how many jobs they held between the ages of 18 to 44.

Men averaged 11.4
Women average 10.7
Me? – 21 – if I narrow it to full-time jobs only held within that age range: 12.

Not exactly the epitome of career stability, but I do think I’ve finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. ;)
Now, as to my circular ambitions? Well, I figure “mom” takes in nurse, veterinarian, archaeologist and artist. I have treated boo boos on kids, horses, dogs and cats including giving shots to the last three (I let the REAL doctor handle the kid). I have unearthed buried toys – indoors and out – and even made some of those god-awful decorative cookie recipes that look so great in magazines (where most of them should remain) and done countless craft projects at home and at scouts. I am a teacher, and I am actually earning money as a writer.

But it’s the last thing that is truly my passion. If my son can find that, even if it takes him thirty years and countless job changes, then I will be happy.

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