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What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

An astronaut one day, a teacher the next … kids have the luxury of infinite possibilities when it comes to choosing their future profession. As people get older, however, they start to realize that selecting a career isn’t always so easy. Most jobs require training, which in turn involves investing time and money to get the education needed. Selecting the “right” path weighs heavily on the mind.

While plenty of people who start out in one job end up switching careers down the line, trying to figure out early on what type of occupation may prove a great fit is an exercise worth doing. Here are four strategies to explore:


Various quizzes can help you discover careers that may be well-suited to your inherent nature. College career offices often provide them free of charge and can assist in interpreting results. Or, check into no-cost options on the Internet. For instance, the U.S. Department of Labor’s My Next Move has an exploration quiz in which you rank how much you like certain activities and then the site generates career food-for-thought based on your responses.


Without making judgements, write down any job that sounds interesting. Do patterns emerge? If so, you might be showing an inclination toward a certain discipline.

For instance, if you wrote “doctor” and “nurse,” perhaps a position in healthcare would be satisfying. A good next move would be going to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which is put out by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and clicking on “Healthcare” under the “Occupation Groups” section. This action will bring up a variety of jobs people hold in the healthcare industry and information on each position about things such as educational requirements, job outlook, pay, and what duties the job entails. You might determine pursuing an M.D. isn’t in the cards, but studying to become a surgical technologist is doable and intriguing.

Reflect on Your Past

What activities did you get lost in doing as a child? What were some of your favorite toys with which to play? What positive comments frequently appeared on your report card?

People are often most close to their “true self” during childhood. As we age, factors such as approval from others, societal expectations, and income start to influence what we choose to do. Thinking back to how you used to love playing school with your stuffed animals, could spend hours building with Legos, or always were praised for being a compassionate listener might lead to getting excited about a career as a teacher, architect, or counselor.

Talk to Others

Lastly, a great way to learn about possible careers is to talk to people. As you hear about what others do for a living, you may become intrigued. Your college’s career office can be particularly helpful to this occupation-finding strategy. Many can put students in contact with alum working in a field of interest. Ask what a typical day involves. Inquire about what types of positions workers in his office hold and their individual responsibilities. People generally are flattered when someone wants to know more about them, so don’t be shy about conversing!