In first grade, the teacher asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. Perhaps you recall a similar conversation in elementary school. Apparently I answered ‘Arthur’ because I could not quite say Author. I gravitated toward reading, so that occupation made sense to me. Fast forward a few years later, and I decided that I liked playing with young kids at camp or when babysitting, so I thought, “I’ll become a teacher.” Only in my senior year of high school did I really come to terms with the fact that I did not have the drive or capacity to write a novel, nor did I love the idea of working with children every day, teaching a subject over and over.
As a result of this epiphany, I went off to college with no major in mind, yet feeling like I had to have one. At summer orientation I chose Psychology, as I liked my high school class and my teacher. Unfortunately, I had an encounter with a foul smelling rat cage prior to the first day of classes that sent me scurrying to the Registrar’s Office to once again change my major for the third time! This time, I chose Business/Marketing, as my parents were in sales and owned their own business, so I was familiar with some of the aspects of the industry. For the next three-four years, I sat through classes I did not like or excel in, refusing to consider that perhaps I had acted impulsively and chosen a major that was not a good fit for my interests or abilities. While on a study abroad experience my junior year and away from everything I liked about my campus and college experience, I finally accepted that I really disliked my major. However, at a small private college in the 1980’s, and with high interest rates for my student loans, the idea of changing a major that late in the process was not an option I considered.
With no career plan in mind, I thought that the next step was graduate school – get more education till I figured it all out. (SIDE NOTE: this rationale is not one I recommend for deciding to go to graduate school.) I picked a program that encompassed what I did like about some of my business classes, as well as leadership and organizational behavior. I was well on my way in the application process, when I discovered that I could earn a degree in higher education and work at a college full time. I once again shifted plans, but this time, I finally found my niche and life continued on from there. Twenty years and multiple jobs later, but all in the same industry, I know I figured out my career plan.
If the question of “What do I want to do when I grow up?” ever resurfaces, I can say I had it both right and wrong. As a child, I picked careers that demonstrated what I had been exposed to, without knowing that there were variations and options beyond my comprehension. I wanted to be an author and have found ways to incorporate writing into my career and personal life, through blogging and product reviews. My desire to help people achieve their goals and learn new concepts was engrained at a young age; I just did not want to work with small children. So the next time someone asks you, what do you want to be when you grow up, or you find yourself at a crossroads in your academic or work world, think back to some early memories and see there if there is a connection. You never know…you may have had the right idea when you were just five years old!
(images: https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5155/5912882068_a9ce17d240_z.jpg; http://s1137.photobucket.com/user/HerCampusPitt/media/gradschool.jpg.html; http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0225/2349/files/adultsarealwaysasking.jpg?494)