Do you remember in grade school answering the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When the answers were professional athlete, astronaut, fireman, celebrity, president of the United States, rich and famous, etc., the question was fun! But now high school graduation is in sight and the pressure is on. By now you’ve figured out you can’t hit a curveball or bury a three, you can’t act or sing, and no one in their right mind would want to be president. Soon there will be bills to pay, a family to support, a real life to live and you’re not sure what you want to do when you “grow up.”
The first piece of advice is to take a deep breath and relax. Life is a marathon, not a sprint, you have a long way to go. Your first decision on what to do after graduation won’t be the last big decision you make in life. Some of you will go to college, some to trade school, some directly into the workforce, and some will join the military. Fortunately, life is not a “one size fits all.”
Most of us spend our 20s finding our way in the workforce. It’s easier to figure out what you don’t like to do rather than what you do like. There will be jobs you need (got to pay the bills) and jobs you want. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that baby boomers (my generation) have had an average of 12 different jobs between the ages of 18-48. I personally have had 13 different jobs since graduating from high school. I’ve been a college or graduate student on three different occasions. I’ve had a career in the military, in the restaurant business, and as an educator. Over the years I’ve met thousands of great people and learned something useful in every job I’ve had.
The good news is, you don’t have to make this choice blindly. Seek advice; talk to your family members, your teachers, and people with whom you may already be working. There are also programs available, like Ownit!, that can help you identify your strengths, opportunities for growth, learning preferences and personality traits to help point you in the right direction. Be opened minded and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. You never know when the “right” career opportunity is going to occur. No matter what you choose, remember to always keep learning.
Bill Beveridge has served as a regional director at ResponsiveEd since 2015. He has a passion for helping students develop the skills required to be competitive in today’s economy. He is married with two children. His wife Sandi is a product manager for Caterpillar Inc. His son Alex is a pilot in the Air Force and his daughter Amanda is a financial analyst in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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