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How do you figure out what you want to be when you grow up?

Hi! I'm Ms. Lambert at the International Community School. My 4th graders have a few questions and I'd like to share your advice with them. Thanks in advance!

career career-advice

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Nancy’s Answer

My advice for figuring out what you want to be is dependent on 4 factors:

1) What do you love doing?
2) What are you good at?
3) What does the world need?
4) What can you get paid for?

Finding the intersection of all of these will help you figure out the most fulfilling career for you no matter how your interests may change over the years! For example, let's say you really love sports, but you're not good at teaching so being a coach isn't right for you. But maybe you are really good at being creative and using social media. You could totally go into marketing for a sports team or a sports news channel like ESPN. I'll also say that the older you get, the more you will discover that there are so many more jobs that you've never heard of. Keep your options open and explore the changing intersection of the 4 points above, because finding a career that you love is never a linear. You will try different things and discover new things you like and maybe things you don't like and that's completely okay! Like everyone said above, enjoy the journey :)

Nancy recommends the following next steps:

List out 5 things you love doing
List out 5 things you are good at
Brainstorm potential careers that overlap the things from your two lists, keeping in mind what you can get paid for. Ask your teacher or an adult for help with brainstorming!
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Manda’s Answer

What you want to do when you grow up will probably change several times as you gain experience and learn about new careers. To get started, some good questions to ask yourself are:

- What are my interests? (examples: sports, music, animals, helping people)
- What kind of lifestyle do I want to have? (for example, flight attendants are always traveling, and business owners work long hours)
- What work activities do I enjoy most? (examples: writing, talking to people in person, talking on the phone, typing, taking care of children, solving problems)
- How many years do I want to go to school? (for example, an automotive technician can graduate high school and start working; a teacher will need four or five years of college; a doctor will need 8-10 years of school and has to maintain good grades)

Try to learn about all different kinds of careers and what kind of work activities, training, and lifestyles go with them. This will help you plan, but remember, lots of adults have different jobs and even change careers later in life. For now, focus on doing well in school and developing skills like communication, leadership, and respect, because those will help you in any job you choose.
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Simeon’s Answer

The starting point I usually recommend is going to the department of labor's website and seeing what the fastest growing fields are. That will give you a starting point if you're drawing a blank about what you'd like to do. I'd also recommend looking at YouTube videos where employees discuss their favorite and least favorite parts of their jobs. One of the downsides to a lot of career decision materials is that they don't usually tell you the downsides of different careers, so it might help you narrow down the options you're considering.
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Brittany’s Answer

I think the most important thing is to learn who you are, what you like, what is important to you, and what makes you happy. A job/career does not define you. If you have a strong sense of who you are, then the right career will find you, rather than you searching for it. The great thing is, that you can grow and change and find new things to like, and your career may change over time too, and thats ok! I love basketball, and although my job is hard at times, the love I have for helping my players grow up is what helps me when things get hard. If you love the work you do, it helps on the days that are hard.
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Milly’s Answer

I believe, we can all learn about what we enjoy doing, through the course of figuring out what we would like to be when grown up. For instance, if you find yourself to be very nurturing, caring and mostly wanting to help people; being in the medical field, teaching or something along those lines could fit your critera. However, there are so many fields within such sectors, for example in the medical field you may want to persue being a nurse, a dental practitioner or perhaps working within the administration side of things. With this in mind, the best way to figure out what you want to be, is try all different aspects, we do not have a limit. When you find that one thing that makes you feel excited and happy, you can learn more about it. This allows you to understand what options you have and research further into what career you would like. But always remmeber, if you choose something and feel like you would prefer more challege, you can always educate yourself further or get hands on experience or better yet, find a mentor so you can always find growth.

Milly recommends the following next steps:

Wishing you the best of luck :D Number one tip, enjoy the process of figuring out what you like. Your solid carrer choice may not come easy, but thats ok, enjoy the process!
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Ada’s Answer

Find out what makes you really happy and see if you can add education to it, to make it your profession. When you love your profession it never feels like work.
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J.T.’s Answer

I think the most important thing is to keep an open mind and learn what makes you happy. A job/career does not define you but should reflect your passion.
A job/career may change over time, as your passions will change. I grow up wanting to be a pilot. While I’m not a professional pilot, I still love to fly. I love my current job, and I get to make a difference in people's lives.