How to answer: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
The question “what do you want to be when you grow up” sends shivers down the spine of all senior high school students, as well as many, many adults! It is an important question and to answer it I think there are four things you need to do.
1) Really, really research your prospective career paths. This is particularly important if the jobs you are considering require courses (tafe, university etc.) which cost a lot of money and consume a lot of time. The type of questions you need to answer include; is there multiple job opportunities where you live (if you are not willing to travel), what do you actually have to do to get a job (for example to be a clinical psychologist in Australia you must complete a three year undergraduate degree, one honours year, two years of a masters degree + two years supervision- that is eight years of hard work and competition that many people are not aware of!), are there particular aspects of the job that will clash with your personality (for example academia research can be extremely critical, and if you are a person does not handle criticism well, that is something you would need to consider) and also what type of lifestyle does the job entail?… which leads me to my second point.
2) It is important to consider the type of lifestyle that you want. What I mean by this is your career has a massive impact on your entire life and the way you will actually be able to live it. Although I agree with the saying “you work to live, you don’t live to work”, work will always be a big part of your life (unless your lotto numbers come up- fingers crossed!). Do not look through a job guide and pick out a career, pick out a lifestyle. If you love to travel-pick a job where you can travel, if flexibility is important to you-pick a job that you can work your own hours, likewise if stability and structure is important to you-pick a 9-5 job, if you hate taking orders-pick a job where you can be your own boss, and so on…
3) Be picky. Do not be afraid to take your time when choosing prospective careers. If you have no idea what you want to do straight out of school, that is fine! Dabble in different things, travel, volunteer, get as much experience as you can. I think it is so important to get a job that you will not hate, obviously there are bad/ hard parts to any job but you want your job to be more enjoyable than not- so take your time when deciding!
4) & perhaps most importantly never stop asking yourself the “what do you want to be when you grow up” question. In the world we live in today, most people do not stay in one job from the end of school to retirement. There will even be jobs you are applying for in five years that do not exist right now. So my point is choose a general career area, have a specific ‘dream job’ if you desire, but know that you may never get that exact job, and more importantly be excited that you could get something even better. Never settle and never stop taking opportunities.