Career Launch

Your Dream Job isn’t What You Think it is

Lolita Allgyer
January 2020

I’ve been mulling over a recent article from Bloomberg breaking down the career goals of 15-16 year olds. 

Basically, most teens want to pursue one of around ten careers, including:

  • Sports
  • Medical Professions
  • Design
  • Business management
  • Law

Based on what I knew about careers at age 16, I’m assuming there are two reasons for these choices: 

  1. These are careers teens have some context for, and therefore gravitate toward when put on the spot. 
  2. The titles for the above professions sound cool. They’re easy answers to the probing questions everyone is bound to ask you as you near graduation. 

But if you’re a teen thinking about possible future careers, here are a couple things to keep in mind:

1. You probably have no idea what you want to do yet.

You think being a lawyer is cool, but don’t know you’ll hate paperwork after two years of school. You want to be a doctor but haven’t found out yet that you get sick at the sight of blood.

Here’s the good thing about that: you don’t have to worry about finding your dream job today. Instead, focus on finding opportunities that are interesting to you. Then build your dream career from there by finding out what you do best in the world!

2. The career you’ll have in 20 years probably doesn’t exist yet.

Imagine trying to explain to people back in 2000 that you could make money driving for Uber. Or writing tweets and making TikToks. 

Exactly. It’s hard to fathom or plan for a career you don’t know is possible. It’s better to just get an entry-level job in something you’re interested in and build your career one step at a time as the market changes (and it will)!

3. These are only a TINY portion of possible career fields to go into.

I didn’t know a lot about available careers at 16, either. (Yes, I was one of those kids interested in being a lawyer)! 

But one thing helped me get where I am today: I never stopped checking out new opportunities. After completing a mock trial, I realized that if I went into law full-time, I’d have a hard time finding work-life balance because I’d be so emotionally involved in the cases I was currently working on. So I moved on to other opportunities. 

4. Only 27% of college grads end up getting jobs in their field of study.

Psych! Yep, this means that, even if you’re sure you know your dream job, you’ll probably change your mind. Or the job market will have changed by the time you’re 20, and that dream job won’t be available.

Don’t let that scare you. This information has a plus side as well! Look at it this way: the degree is obviously not the signal that people are using to show their skill anymore. There’s never been more opportunity for you to launch a career you love by building it from the ground up. 

In the end, instead of trying to find one perfect career path, here’s what you should do when you’re 15-16:

  • Volunteer, especially when the opportunity is related to a career you’re interested in. 
  • Shadow people you look up to.  
  • Research. A lot. 
  • Make note of jobs you find cool and research more.
  • Take cool people out for dinner. Ask them questions and get to know what they do and why.
  • Don’t try to figure it all out today. Take one opportunity at a time!
  • Or try all the things on this list.

You’ve got this!

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