Thinking About a Career Before College

A student's reflection on thinking about a career before college.

June 05, 2007

Thinking About a Career Before College Thinking About a Career Before College

On my shelf of forgotten and useless VHS tapes sit two videos I watched frequently as a child: “I Wanna Be a Fire Fighter” and “I Wanna Be a Heavy Equipment Operator”. I don’t exactly remember wanting to be a heavy equipment operator, but you just never know at that age. These educational videos depicted what a day on the job was like for the most sought-after occupations by kindergarteners.

As we all know now, choosing a career path is not really as simple as affixing the coolest job title you could think of to the phrase “I wanna be a …”. In fact, it’s probably one of the least simple decisions you have to make.

In the fog of college admissions, you kind of forget about the need to know what you’re going to do after college because you’re so wrapped up in getting in. But every so often, and especially after all the applications in, the thought hits you: “What am I going to do with my life?” I certainly don’t have an answer to that question, and I’m pretty sure the vast majority of people my age don’t either.

There are plenty of tools to help you along your journey of career enlightenment, such as career aptitude tests. I somehow don’t always trust in the validity of such tests, though. I remember taking one freshman year and getting back a list that had “fashion designer” somewhere near the top. Fashion is not really my cup of tea, to put it lightly. Another one was “research assistant,” which is about the most vague and boring job title I can think of. Then again, I have taken some tests that have yielded interesting results.

I took the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) and got some results that interested me, such as public relations work. I suggest taking the ASVAB if your high school offers it. It’s a test that is supposed to tell you what you’d be good for in the military, but anyone can take it, and I believe at my school it was free or for a very low fee.

Regardless of what the tests say or what adults think, my main view on a career is that I don’t have to know what I want to do right now. I know what I want to study (political science … or maybe English … or maybe history?), and I expect that my undergraduate studies will lead me in directions that I can’t foresee now. I think that’s part of the purpose of undergraduate study, or at least why I’m going to college – to be shown things one hasn’t seen before, to open up opportunities (career or otherwise) that wouldn’t otherwise be open.

I will have a better idea for what I want to do with my life after a couple years in college; better, at least, than “I wanna be an astronaut!” For now I’ll just focus on being successful in and enjoying the final months of high school and opening my mind toward a new way of life come fall.

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