What do you want to be when you grow up?

When I was younger, I wanted to be a firefighter. Then I wanted to be a singer. Then I wanted to be a teacher.

Now, I am not any of those things. I may not be sure about the career I have landed myself with, but I do not wish to be a firefighter or a singer or a teacher.

A recent news item I read suggests that children as young as seven could start being given careers advice in the hopes that it might raise their dreams of the future.

From the article:

The programme, which aims to broaden the horizons and raise the aspirations of children from deprived backgrounds, is to be piloted in seven local areas.

Universities and firms will give pupils a glimpse of what it is like working and learning in adulthood.

I have two issues with this. Firstly, as mentioned above, when I was seven, I had ridiculous ideas about the future. When you are seven it is all dreams and fantasy because there is no need to know what real life is like then.

When discussing this with a colleague of mine, she said when she was seven, she wanted to live/work in a submarine. A few months later, she got stuck in a lift, freaked out, and has been claustrophobic ever since. Not much call for claustrophobic submarine operators. Things change drastically when you are young, what is the point in trying to pin you down to one thing?

Which leads nicely to my second point. Careers advice sucks. I had one appointment with my careers advisor. I told her that I liked English and writing. She said I should work with numbers, and pushed for my work experience placement to be at a bank or in an office.

These days, I do work with numbers but I wish I had gone the English route instead. Thanks a bunch. Imagine what damage they could have done if they’d got to me at age seven.

13 thoughts on “What do you want to be when you grow up?

  1. When I was young, I lived in America, and there they had these guys who walked around with big fans on their backs who’s whole job was to blow leaves around. That was what I wanted to be when I grew up.

    I told my parents who, suspecting a slight paucity of ambition, bade me suggest an alternative.

    I told them that if I couldn’t be a leaf blower, I would only settle for being a garbage collector.

    I think you may be on to something here Christine.

  2. When I was a little girl I wanted to be a lawyer. Even when others still wanted to be fairys and princesses and things, I wanted to be a lawyer. My ‘chosen career path’ in my high school year book was lawyer. Then I went to uni, did first year law, and didn’t get accepted into the restricted entry second year course because I didn’t put enough effort into my studies, I was too used to cruising through high school and still being top of all my classes.

    I still regret how much I wasted that year because I’d still quite like to be a lawyer.

  3. Like Amy, I also wanted to be a lawyer. But IT started to come into the picture in high school. So I applied for law in one school and IT in another.

    I got accepted in IT, but not in law. So I took the IT route – and I never looked back.

    In theory, I could still take law right now (with IT as my pre-law, so I can specialize in cyberlaw). But I couldn’t be bothered – I’m too lazy to memorize whole books nowadays. 😀

    Amy, perhaps you should look at the options available to take law again? Most courses are OK as a pre-law.

  4. When I was young I actually wanted to be a wrestler but this was at a time when I didn’t know much about what went on in companies like the WWE. I didn’t realise it was fake for one. Thankfully I know now! 🙂

  5. Well I have always wanted to work for NASA or in F1… But when I was a kid I wanted to be a fighter pilot – I reckon I would have qualified to be one.

    The only problem was that the first Gulf War happened when I was a kid and I saw that fighter pilot who got captured and tortured on TV – put me right off!

    So then I thought about being a civilian pilot and got as far as applying for a scholarship and taking flying lessons. However, the cost of learning was up there with being a doctor and it would have taken years to recoup, so I decided that the pilot thing would be for fun only.

    I then applied to be an air traffic controller. In a room of 30 people I was the only one who passed the tests. Then I was told that I would have to raise thousands of dollars, move to a new city, take a two-year training course where I was forbid to work another job, then after all that, move to a really small bush town to start my training. I didn’t go any further.

    The industry I am in now I sort of fell into by accident – the ironic thing is that we use space-age technology and F1-style telemetry and analysis to get things done. So in a roundabout way, I got what I always wanted 😉

  6. Like Christine, I told the school careers adviser that I liked English and writing. So for my work experience week, they sent me to an insurance broker.

    This was the 1980s, so when you wanted to take out insurance, you actually had to make a phone call or attend an office in person to lie through your teeth about your personal circumstances. There was a tiny filing room in the back, where I spent much of my time sorting papers into the right folders. Above the office itself was a network of rickety stairs and dusty offices that smelled faintly of cigar smoke. This was the domain of the partners in the business, a pair of mysterious old men whom I met only briefly, and the manager, a rather uptight individual who told me with great pride that the guy I was working with in the filing room had “worked his way up from the very bottom”.

    Occasionally I got to answer the phone, take some details, and feed them into the sole computer in the office. Even then (1986) it seemed a crotchety, dirty and superannuated thing. It took so long about its business that you actually had to take the person’s number and call them back with the news, once the PC had got its act together and spewed out the bad news via a dot matrix printer (remember them?).

    My next interaction with the careers industry came in the immediate aftermath of graduating from university in the middle of the last recession. Someone said I should “sign on” for the dole. No dice: not content with abolishing school milk in her earlier years, Thatcher (or it may have been one of her successors; I forget) had put a stop to that. The Job Centre drone told me that I wasn’t technically unemployed because I’d never had a job, and had therefore made no NI payments. Nor could I claim Income Support because I was working part time in a restaurant. She scanned my CV with abject disinterest.

    “Not much call for graduates with this type of degree,” she said, flatly. “You can go and pack peas in the Bird’s Eye factory, though…”

  7. Oh yeah, I forgot work experience – which was for a day, not a week.

    I went to Telecom, saw the phone exchange (like the ship off the Matrix!) climbed onto a roof to fix a cellphone tower, and they took me out for coffee because it was Friday.

    The best part was that in a huge exchange, they still had computers so old they used reel to reel tapes, which were not updated “because they worked”, and the fibre optic part of the exchange was the size of a couple of PC’s, as this was back in the days of dial-up internet.

    It was loads of fun!

  8. It seems as though a lot of people didn’t get the advice they could have hoped for. Train the careers advisors then, I say, rather than the kids.

  9. In that situation, where the title still apllies to me. Though I’ve decided ages ago that professional football wasn’t going to be a solution (I look at these 15 year olds being signed by these premiership teams and just think, oh and don’t get me started on Tom Daley/Laura Robson).

    Decided I wanted to be a journalist. That was ages ago, I’ve had my mind made up for a long time now and as I’ve said, did every step I can at my age to get in there. Have a blog (or three) and that and so.

    Though I did my work experience at a doctors surgery which was not as exciting as the show Doctors that I sometimes watch in that rather dull 1-3pm slot when nothing else is on in the holidays. Nobody climbed on top of the roof, threatened me at gunpoint and I thought there was no thrill in that job, and stuck with journalism.

    I’ve been told that there are two really good options for journalism at uni, Sheffield and Preston, this from a few people who have already took it. Hard choice…

  10. Everybody knows that if you want to be world champion at anything, you have to start at age 4. Seven? Waaay too late!

    On a serious note, I wish more parents would show an interest in their children’s future and learn to talk to them about it from the time they start high school (12 – 14). Very few people make it to the top of their chosen career without a great deal of advice and support, and that should come from family if possible.

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