Saturday, April 11, 2015



This is an age-old acorn that everyone must have been asked as children. "What do you want to do when you grow up?" It really is fascinating to look back on our own childhood to see whether we had any aspirations and, if so, whether we actually fulfilled those dreams? It is a rather difficult question, because from childhood to the time we look for a career, myriads of new job options have been created while others may have disappeared.

When I was in high school, the majority of jobs offered to girls appeared to be nursing, teaching, banking, office-workers and sales assistants. For boys it was a wider range of jobs including, but not exclusively, teaching, banking, accounting, trade apprenticeships and office work. These days, because of the massive diversity in technology, the ‘world is our oyster’. In fact, many manual jobs have been taken over by robots replacing people manpower.

If you ask 5 year-old boys what they want to be when they grow up they will usually still want to be a fireman, policeman, racing car driver, digger driver, Bob the Builder, Superman, Spiderman or other terminator good guys. The children’s career choices at that age are directly influenced by the programs they see on TV. They act out their dreams through the use of action figures and toys they plead with their parents to buy in stores. It is all ‘brawn and bravery’! You don’t ever see the kids opting for a sedentary job, like sitting at a desk and doing office work. They see no excitement in that. Girls will usually still play with dolls and want to be a mommy, although these days their role models may be the likes of Strawberry Shortcake, Elsa or Anna (‘Frozen’ characters) or girl ‘terminator’-type action figures.


My real reason for writing this blog is to say that I cannot believe the number of teens I come across who have absolutely no blind clue what they want to do vocationally. It is all, "I wonder...."  It is pretty sad to say to a thirty-year-old, “What are you going to do when you grow up?” Honestly, it is just plain sad! These ‘kids’ have usually gone to college on mom and dad’s dime. After all, their parents have been putting the money aside for their education since the day they were born and, ‘by hokey’, they are going to college whether they are capable and/or willing to go, or not.


How can we help our kids find their way to a satisfying work life? Here are some suggestions:

a) Watch them from the time they are around 5 years old. See what kind of play they gravitate
     towards. Are they really adept with their hands? Do they like jigsaws, reading, physical
     activity, playing with Lego, drawing or coloring? Maybe they like making things out of
     nothing e.g. egg cartons, pieces of wool and glue. Do they like inventing things, or are they
     really into singing or trying to play a musical instrument? (Don't be tempted to buy them every
     instrument in the orchestra!).

b) Take them to various places that might interest them. Do they like camping, playing a
     particular sport, or going to the symphony? Some of these places of interest may not become
     their full-time vocation, but if they want to participate it will teach them about setting and
     reaching goals, perfecting skills, and learning how to deal with failure as well as success. It also
     teaches a child to be persistent and not give up.

c) When the children get to early high school, take them to a vocational counselor and get as many
     pamphlets and ideas for careers as possible. See if you can book some time for them to be able
     to visit a place of interest e.g. a legal office or court, a graphic design studio, a recording studio,
     a hospital or a building site. Also, try to find people who are in the vocations of interest and ask
     if they will talk with your son or daughter and answer any questions they may have.

d) Get your child to visit a university as well as go on-line and see what educational pathways would
     be necessary to fulfill their dream.


Allow time for your child to really explore options and be prepared for them to change their mind.
Whatever career they decide to follow you should expect your child to do the best they possibly can.
That means they do THEIR best and it may not end up being the top grade in the class. No matter
what job they go for, the boss is going to require excellent workmanship and great attitudes.

If you have any questions on this subject, do not hesitate to contact us at
and obtain more helpful advice on our website at www,

Written by Sally Burgess
Photograph compliments of Kristee Mays

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