Picking a Career as a Teen

By Ashley

careers-aheadWhen I was in high school I had no idea what I wanted to be. I loved science so I figured I would get into that, but I didn’t know how. I also loved to read and write, but that’s not exactly a career choice — or so I thought.

Isn’t it funny that all these years later I am a writer and I love it, even though I always thought science would be my career? The thing you have to remember is to do what you love, not what you think you can make a career out of.

Many teens get caught up in the idea of having a ‘big job’ — doctor, lawyer, and so on. Yes, you want to make money and live a successful life, but that doesn’t mean you have to pick a job that you are not happy with. There are literally millions of jobs out there, and thousands more are being created every year. You can find a profitable job doing almost anything if you put the time and effort into it.

Take dog walking for example. Maybe you love dogs. Maybe you don’t want to be a veterinarian or do anything medical. You just want to hang around with your furry friends. A dog walker can make a handsome living if they put their mind to it. You can even end up with your own TV show like the Dog Whisperer.

Or maybe you love to plan parties. You can be a party planner for a living! Weddings, birthdays, you name it — people will need help planning it.

You can make a living in music without playing an instrument. You can teach others without working at a school. There are all sorts of jobs out there that you have probably never heard of. If you are interested in something, don’t give up on it just because you think it won’t make a living.

Another thing to talk about is college. Nowadays college is practically mandatory. But it is expensive. You have alternatives though! Community college is far more affordable and you get the same great education. Scholarships, online classes, and even work study programs can help you get educated without breaking the bank.

If college isn’t for you, don’t sweat it. If you have drive and determination you can still be a success. Focus on what you love and learn as much as you can about it. Join in with others who love it too. If you can’t find a group to join, make one! If you can’t find someone who has the job you really want to do then create it. Shadow people who work in similar fields or work in a company that does a similar thing.

If you want to open up your own coffee shop, be a barista for a while. See what it is like. If you want to open a comic book store then work there for a while. Making connections and figuring out what you like is part of being a young adult. As you go out into the world you have to choose your own path. Many times the path will go off course, but eventually you will find your way.

My path to writing was certainly not straight. I worked in retail for a while but always kept my eye out for any job that might lead to writing. I ended up applying for a job at a school in the English department and through that I got my first professional writing gig. I took that and pressed forward, applying to any writing job I could find.

Years later I am so glad I made the effort to pursue what I thought was a hopeless dream of becoming a writer. I don’t write novels or plays or masterpieces, but I enjoy my work and I look forward to the day I publish my first bestseller.

The thing you have to remember is to find your passion and then pursue it. It may not turn out to be what you thought, but you might like it even more. Whether you work with your hands or your brain, if it is what you love then you can find a job that will pay you to do it.

Don’t sweat it if you don’t know what you want to do with the rest of your life. Most people don’t at your age or even when they’re older. They just wing it and pursue what they love until they fall into something great. Keep moving forward, keep trying new things, and find out what you enjoy. A degree is great, but don’t let it pin you down. You can do what you love, no matter what your degree is or even if you have one.

Don’t get me wrong. Getting a good career is hard work. You have to want it. You have to work for it. Sometimes you will fail — probably even most of the time. You will end up taking jobs you hate, but don’t settle. Keep working towards the career you love and you will find it.

Keep in mind that change is hard. You might get comfortable in that okay job, in that okay town, around people you know. But you shouldn’t settle now; you have your whole life ahead of you. Keep pushing forward and striving to find where you belong. After all, if you love your work then it is not work at all. You don’t want to end up dreading going to work in five years, so don’t settle today. Instead push a little bit further every day. Get out of your comfort zone. Ask people for help or jobs or suggestions. Try to do better; learn more, every day. Even when you are not in school you should still be learning and growing. A stagnant life is an unhappy life.

Once you know what you love, get a goal in mind. Maybe you want to be famous or rich or have a title of some sort. Great! Keep that goal in mind and work towards it. Make a plan on how you can move towards your goal in small steps. Chart how you are doing and see how much closer you move every year. Long term goals can be hard to hang onto, but if you keep short term goals in mind as you go along it is a lot easier.

One thing you should remember is that a job is more than a job. It is the people you work with. Unless you live an isolated life you will have employers or employees or customers. Make sure you only work with those people you like. You may not always get along with everyone, but a single person can turn a good job into a miserable one. Even your dream job with the wrong people is no longer your dream job. Focus not only on what you want to do, but the kind of people you want to work with. Form connections with those people and you will be much happier.

I know all this seems complex to you now, but living it one day at a time it all seems simple. You work, you function, you learn, you grow, and you move on. You may find many dream jobs before you settle on one, and that’s fine. You may not find your dream job for many years and that’s fine too. Just make sure you know what your dream is and what you truly enjoy. Don’t settle. Don’t give up. Don’t stress out. Learn new things, try new things, talk to new people, and keep growing towards success.

Always curious, Ashley Hardway is constantly learning and passionate about sharing what she learns with others. Based in Houston, Texas, she loves to help families grow stronger, help their environments and communities, and keep moving forward! Check out @NannyLady on Twitter to connect and find out more.

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  1. Hi. I am the Editor of a printed newsletter to encourage homeschoolers in New Zealand. I was wanting to reprint this article in the next newsletter. I will give full credits to Ashley and reference this website. Could I have permission please?

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