How to Choose What You Want to Be when You Grow Up

Three Parts:Discovering Your GiftsAssessing Your Options as a Young AdultFinding a Position You Love

As a child, our dreams are limitless. We want to be a firefighter, an astronaut, an actor, a doctor, and a pop singer- all at the same time! As you grow and start seriously considering your professional future, it’s important to preserve that passion and self-confidence. Confucius had the right idea when he said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”[1]

Part 1
Discovering Your Gifts

  1. Image titled Choose What You Want to Be when You Grow Up Step 1
    Get moving. Do you enjoy trying different kinds of sports, or climbing all over jungle gyms? Maybe you’re a hands-on kid, spending your free time building forts and horsing around with your friends. You might be the strongest and fastest person in your school! Believe it or not, these fun, physical things that you love could all become a career.
    • Professional athletes make money playing their favorite sports, and people like coaches, referees, and sports medicine doctors all build their careers around sports too. Construction workers and mechanics get to work all day with their hands, building and fixing things from the ground up. The possibilities are endless.
    • ”Having a job” doesn’t always mean sitting at a desk all day! There are plenty of fun and active jobs for people who like to be on their feet.
  2. Image titled Choose What You Want to Be when You Grow Up Step 2
    Embrace and grow your love of math and science. This might sound boring, but these classes in school can help you find your future job. Some kids love math class, and they can do the hardest problems in their head. Other students can’t wait to experiment and learn about the world around them in science class. Do you especially enjoy learning about and using logic and fact? Take note! Math and science skills are amazing skills to carry into a career.
    • Inventors, scientists, economists, engineers, and computer programmers were all once students just like you, who now work with numbers, facts, and logic in their careers. Even if your adult job isn’t based in math or science, these skills can help in all sorts of professions!
  3. Image titled Choose What You Want to Be when You Grow Up Step 3
    Make things and let your imagination run wild. Draw, write, paint, entertain, and create. If you’d rather daydream, do crafts, tell stories, or make music than learn facts and figures, that’s OK! Embrace your dreams and work hard on the things you do enjoy. There are so many careers for people just like you.
    • Artists, authors, actors, musicians, and designers are all professions that require creativity, among hundreds of others. Being a daydreamer and an artist are qualities that can get you an amazing job one day!
  4. Image titled Choose What You Want to Be when You Grow Up Step 4
    Embrace the things you love wholeheartedly. If you want to spend all of your free time cooking with your parents in the kitchen, playing with the family dog outside, or watching over your younger siblings, continue doing those things. Your hobbies and your passions are things that can turn into your career one day if you work hard and allow your interests to flourish. Your favorite past-times can be great indicators of what you excel in and love.
    • Think about why you enjoy the hobbies that you do. If you love playing with your pets, maybe you’re a nurturer who would make a great veterinarian or animal trainer one day. If you enjoy taking care of your younger siblings, you might be a caretaker, a teacher, or a mentor in your career when you grow up.

Part 2
Assessing Your Options as a Young Adult

  1. Image titled Choose What You Want to Be when You Grow Up Step 5
    Explore the world around you. The more you see and experience, the more possible paths you’ll find. When you’re young, you have much more freedom with how you spend your time. Use it trying everything you can and learning all about the things that interest you. You never know when you’ll stumble upon something you absolutely love.[2]
    • Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone. Sign up for the public speaking class that intimidates you, or apply for the internship you think you’ll never get. An unexpected opportunity could lead you straight to your dream job. The worst thing you can do is to let fear or intimidation stop you from taking the first step. [3]
    • Lea Michelle, the world famous star of Glee, got her start on Broadway by accident. She accompanied her friend to an audition and then auditioned herself as a joke. She found her life’s work by chance, and you can too if you put yourself out there enough.[4]
  2. Image titled Choose What You Want to Be when You Grow Up Step 6
    Listen to your gut. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the opinions of other people, or follow the plan that others have mapped out for you. There will always be people judging your choices, and there will always be family members, teachers, friends, and even strangers telling you what you should do. However, only you know which career path is right for you.[5]
    • This doesn’t mean you should disregard the advice you receive from the people who care about you. They usually want the best for you and they may have more life experience than you, so it certainly can be helpful. However, at the end of the day only you can determine who and what you become when you grow up. Don’t give up on a dream or shy away from a goal just because others may not believe in it.
  3. Image titled Choose What You Want to Be when You Grow Up Step 7
    Practice, practice, practice. If you find something that you absolutely love but aren’t great at, practice. If you find something that you naturally excel in, practice. Whether you are a complete novice or a prodigy, you have to hone your craft. No one can become an expert in their field unless they devote time and energy to it.[6] No matter what the skill may be, it’s essential that you become the best you can.
    • When it comes to determining what your skills are, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. It may not be a sport, a subject in school, or something else clear-cut. Are you the person all your friends come to when they need advice? Do you have a soft spot for all animals? Do you love being a project leader in school? All of those things are strengths that can help you in the professional world!
  4. Image titled Choose What You Want to Be when You Grow Up Step 8
    Be realistic and be patient. Dream big and stay optimistic about your future, but remember that only hard work and patience will get you where you want to be. Many people who love their career now may not have loved it when they started out. While it would be great to obtain your dream job on your first try, you often have to figure out which industry you want to be in, and then work your way up the ladder.[7]

Part 3
Finding a Position You Love

  1. Image titled Choose What You Want to Be when You Grow Up Step 9
    Take career assessment tests. If you have no idea where to start the process of choosing a career, these tests are perfect for you. There are all different kinds of tests that can measure your skills and interests and point you toward a fitting career.[8] Your results aren’t your only options, but they can be helpful suggestions to get you on the right track.
    • Some tests examine your natural abilities by asking you questions with right or wrong answers. Other tests have more open-ended questions, and those analyze your personality.[9] Try a few!
    • You can find a lot of great career assessment tests online with just a quick Google search. If you want more options, ask your school counselor or a teacher for help. There is no shortage of assessments you can take!
  2. Image titled Choose What You Want to Be when You Grow Up Step 10
    Write down all of your strengths and passions. Underneath each one, jot down different jobs or careers that utilize that particular skill. By writing all of this down, you’ll be able to organize your thoughts and better visualize your opportunities. Cross off careers that seem totally unappealing to you, and circle ones that you want to learn more about. Pay attention to jobs that are listed more than once- in other words, jobs that utilize multiple skills or interests that you have.
    • These things can be general or specific. For example, you may write down “compassionate.” Underneath that trait, you can list things like doctor, teacher, social worker, etc. Next to it, you may write down “Great at science.” Listed underneath that skill may be things like chemist, doctor, computer programmer, etc. Don’t overthink this too much- it’s great to see all the possibilities!
    • Think about how your strengths can translate into all different jobs. For example, you may be a gifted vocalist, but that doesn't mean your goal has to be to become a famous singer. Think about other related jobs, like producer, music teacher, talent recruiter, and more.
  3. Image titled Choose What You Want to Be when You Grow Up Step 11
    Think about the lifestyle you want when you grow up. Do you want a job that requires you to travel seven days a week, or do you want the freedom to work from home? Think about your priorities in a job or career, and don’t feel ashamed of your honest answers.[10] You may be willing to choose a job you aren’t personally interested in if it comes with a great salary. On the other hand, you may prioritize your enjoyment of a job over the money you’ll be making. Everyone is different, and you have to decide what is most important to you.
    • Your priorities may change over time. Don’t be afraid to explore different paths.
  4. Image titled Choose What You Want to Be when You Grow Up Step 12
    Research specific information about the industries you are interested in. Learning anything and everything you can about a particular industry can help you decide if that one is right for you. You can determine which specific skills are most important in that field so that you can develop and perfect them. You should also determine the education level or specialized certifications you will need. By investigating deeper, you can even figure out how employable you may be in a particular field or if you may need a back-up plan.
  5. Image titled Choose What You Want to Be when You Grow Up Step 13
    Find a mentor. Once you’ve narrowed down the jobs and careers that interest you most, try to find someone in that field. It is massively helpful to talk to someone who has the job you want, and to ask them all the questions you need to know. Learn how they got to where they are, and what they wish they knew when they were younger. Ask them what their typical day is like, and if possible, shadow them for a day! By walking in the footsteps of someone who has your “dream job,” you can learn more about it and decide if it really seems right for you.[11]
    • Finding a mentor in your chosen field can also offer you a valuable networking opportunity. A common idea about job searching states, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” While this isn’t always the case, having connections can often put your resume at the top of the stack once it comes time to apply for the job.[12]

Article Info

Categories: Youth