Choosing a Career {or how to answer “What Do You Want to Do?”}

I remember being asked in Grade 9 what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was important then because it determined how I was going to finish high school (as a homeschooled student) and what courses I needed to take. At the time, however, I had no idea what I wanted to do after high school. I wasn’t ready to think about choosing a career.

I didn’t figure out the answer to “what do you want to do?” until the last half of Grade 12. Then I finally decided, after much debate about colleges and programs, to take an English degree at a local college. The question was answered.

Apprentice Writer

Or so I thought. For the next few years, when people asked, “What are you doing?” I could say, “My B.A. in English.”

Then I hit my third year of university, and the question returned. “What do you want to do?” people asked again, referring to my upcoming graduation. I had no clue, but once again, I had to know, as it determined what courses I was going to take for my last year. I managed to check out a few graduate programs and figure out my course registration for my final year.

Graduation hit in May and I had no job for the summer, no application to grad school, and everyone asking me what I was doing. I started a summer job on the excuse it would give me the summer to look for a better job. I put off the job searching until the end of July, when the question started coming up again. Then I did some looking, threw out a few resumes, and got fed up when I couldn’t find the job I wanted.

I envied my friends who had education degrees because, despite the problem that there weren’t many teaching jobs available, at least they knew what they were looking for. Their degrees were so specific it was hard for them to find a job, and my degree was so general it was hard for me to find a job. I had done an English degree so I could write. I had told my family and friends for the last several years that I wanted to be a writer and an editor. And now I was done school and supposed to be working, and the job that I wanted didn’t seem to exist.

My father and my father-in-law are both engineers. They did their four years at university, got a job, and worked for the next forty years or so with the same company.


How to Make a Writing Career: 5 Great Options for choosing a career in writing

Then I got a call for an interview and a job offer. A few weeks later I found myself sitting in my office realizing that, shock of all shocks, I like my job. I’m doing what I want to be doing: working as an editor. My experience and skills have finally paid off.

Not that my journey of choosing a career is over. Being in the workforce now, I have had a chance to look around and see what job opportunities are there. I’ve asked my co-workers how they got where they are. Hearing their stories, working, and seeing what is done, has given me a clearer idea of what I want to do with my life.

So finally, I think can answer that question that I got asked back in Grade 9. At least, until the next life or career change comes along…


Note: this article was originally published in the October 23 issue of the Blue & White.

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