At some point, along the way of growing up, kids begin to realize that someday they will have a job. They will work, just as their parents do. Working is part of being grown up. Some kids will naturally imagine that they will do whatever it is that their parents do, because they see their parents doing it. Others will settle into dreams of exciting jobs. Traditionally, boys imagine that they will become policemen or firemen, or train engineers, or, perhaps, pilots. Girls think of becoming teachers or nurses. Not so much, anymore, of course. Nowadays, girls can reasonably aspire to become anything that boys can be: doctors, lawyers and astronauts. In fact, the reality is there are more female medical students currently than male. (In my medical school class there were five women out of a class of about one hundred and ten. As I remember, there were also two blacks.)
Not uncommonly, young people look forward to becoming a movie star or a rock star. Since there are very few famous musicians, or movie stars, or, for that matter, star athletes, these kids will not fulfill these youthful ambitions—which is just as well, because what they really want is recognition, admiration, and acceptance. Besides, being a rock star, for example, is not all it’s cracked up to be. A patient of mine managed to overcome all the well-known obstacles to making it as a rock musician and reached a point where he had his own band and a record contract and found, nevertheless, that he was unable to support himself. His audience downloaded his recordings without paying him. He made his only income by selling T-shirts when he was on tour. Even very successful musicians do not have an enviable lifestyle. Much of the time they are away from home.
No young person looks forward to becoming a funeral director; yet there are funeral directors. And it is not a bad profession. There is a continuing and reliable demand for their services. They can make a decent living. They even have the opportunity to be truly helpful to people who are in distress, if they are so inclined.
In fact, just looking around, it becomes obvious that many people are working at jobs that they never would have anticipated doing when they were growing up. Does anyone think ahead of time of becoming a liquor salesman, or a linesman, or a bus driver, or an office administrator, or a dog walker, or a welfare worker, or a mortgage broker, or a sailor in the merchant marine? Probably not. Most people stumble into a job and are likely to continue in that job or in a similar sort of job indefinitely. Studies suggest that most people are more or less happy at their jobs, whatever they are, although it may not always seem so given the inclination people have to complain. The critical aspects of work are the same in every job: the chance to make enough money to support a family, the chance to do something useful—at least more or less useful, the chance to interact socially with others on a continuing basis, the opportunity to organize one’s day, and week, and year—and to some extent the chance to define themselves. When a stranger asks, “What do you do?” he means more than “What kind of work do you do?” He is asking, “Who are you.” Still, having said that all jobs are equally important, it is still true that some jobs are more satisfying than others. Not only that, but what is satisfying to one person is not necessarily satisfying to someone else.
A few people have always wanted to be a particular thing—let’s say a doctor or a lawyer, or a singer or a carpenter-- and have stuck with that ambition and managed to pull it off. But most people come to a time when they have to decide just what kind of work they should be looking for. These are some of the considerations:
Of course, there are not very many jobs that afford the opportunity to make a lot of money.
These are some of the important aspects of personality a young person should know about himself/herself before deciding on a career. Unfortunately, the current economy is so difficult, I think people are inclined to take any job they can get.(c) Fredric Neuman Follow Dr. Neuman's blog at fredrcneumanmd.com/blog