16 January 2020

Career choice crisis: I’m too young for this!

What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I wonder if you can remember your answer to this question from when you were younger? Firefighter? Dancer? Astronaut? A dinosaur?

A question I am sure we have all been asked at some point, and then eventually we become the ones asking those younger than us the same question.

Is it so important that we know from a young age what we want to do as a ‘grown up’? Once you start doing the asking does that mean you are now the ‘grown up’, and you should have secured a position in your dream job? How do you know when you have finished ‘growing up’? Why don’t we, as ‘grown-ups’, continue to be asked once we reach a certain point or age?

These questions and the concept of having a dream job to strive for has been something on my mind more than ever in recent months. This comes as a result of another shift in where I thought my career path was taking me. You see, I have never just had one dream job since a young age, but for some reason have always felt as though I needed to have one.

Even my longest standing ‘if I could do anything’ job (elephant specialist at a zoo) came when I was 16, staring into the eyes of an elephant 5 feet away from our safari vehicle.

Ever since then it has fluctuated consistently. I just can’t decide. What do I want to do?

My mum told me that when she was deciding what she wanted to study at University, she took the prospectus for her chosen Uni, flicked through the pages, stopped at a random one and, with her eyes closed, let her finger fall somewhere on those open pages. The chosen course was ‘Math and Management.’ She simply thought ‘Well, I’m good at math, and management is a great skill, so sure’ and off she went.

It’s that easy to make decisions, right?

Well, I tried this same tactic many times on our living room floor, but after 5 attempts resulting in; ‘hmm, no I can’t do that‘ I realized that I was completely defeating the point.

Fast forward to landing an unconditional place on a Marketing Management degree, and now finding myself on a 12-month ‘marketing and business development’ internship with Siemens, you would think the dream job question had an easy answer – Marketing!

But…not so simple. You see, my placement here at Siemens has already shown me so many roles and opportunities outside of marketing that are of interest to me. The world of business development is so wide, I can be doing anything from Lead Management to meeting customers, and everything in between. Plus, if you read my last blog, then you will know that I have a habit of choosing a new favorite role every time I attend a new event.

However, this is the great thing, I don’t ever find myself tied to one specific role. This has allowed me to explore my options and learn more about what I enjoy working on and what I may want to do in the future. Now, don’t get me wrong, I would still love to work in Marketing. I guess I am simply surprised at the options there are outside of marketing, that fill me with the same drive and excitement that a creative marketing role once did.

While the idea of not having one direct career path is kind of scary to me, I am realizing that I’m okay with it. I remember attending a ‘Career Hurdles’ event at work back in October last year, ran by NEXT UK, a group of entry level talent employees here at Siemens Manchester. The event featured a panel of managers and included Juergen Maier, previous CEO of Siemens. All had started somewhere far away from the roles they were sitting in on that day, all spoke of struggles and doubts and the sometimes uneven path that eventually landed them safely in positions each of them are now passionate about.

So, I suppose the point I am trying to make here, for both myself and whoever may be reading is that;

You don’t need to have one dream job to work towards, it’s okay to not know what you want to do, or know if you’re in the right place or not.

Enjoy the experience and the work you are doing now, make the most of it and get excited for whatever may come next. I suppose many of us may have settled for the most practical job, the best paying job, or the job that makes the parents most proud. All the while putting our personal dreams and goals on hold, or just dismissing them completely. It seems a shame.

Of course, we do not live in an ideal world, money is important, security is important, acceptance, also, is important to everyday life. We can’t all just drop what we are doing in the hope of finding the career that we would really love to be in. It comes with time, with experience and with learning.

Maybe you know exactly where you would like to be, maybe you have no idea like me. Either way, this year we should enjoy each step, see every new opportunity as an experience to grow and don’t be afraid of it all going wrong. The universe has a funny way of putting people right where they should be – sometimes we just don’t see it straight away.

Anyway, I’m too young to be worrying about this.

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