Sunday, January 8, 2012

Careers

One of the things people talk to me about is what they will do when they retire. My advice typically focuses on finding something they really enjoy doing that can make a bit of money and provide satisfaction. Funny that, I was talking to a nephew recently, discussing what he planned to do when he grew up - he said pretty much what I just typed - find something that he really enjoys doing. The assumption was that then he would make good money.

Much like people struggling with what to do whey they retire, young folks face a similar conundrum. But, I honestly believe the answers are likely not as similar as I suggest above. When thinking about college today one of the parameters that I feel really deserves consideration is the jobs that will be available when graduation rolls around. And this, of course, depends on what a student decides to major in.

Today, as when I was growing up, high school students are counseled to find careers that they really enjoy. Whilst I think this would be the best of all worlds, what about the kids that find they don’t have a real focus, or those that want to focus on majors where jobs are scarce? Or don’t earn much?

In talking with my nephew I explained my take on jobs - that they are what we do to earn money. So we can do the things we really enjoy doing. See, there was a subtle little switch there - instead of going to college with a focus on what jobs would be the most fun, instead, I am suggesting going to college to get a job that makes enough money that students can then do what they want to have fun. I suspect that part of the reason there are so many young folk looking for jobs is that they did not evaluate the job opportunities that come with the degree they pursued. All too many young folk don’t have the skill sets necessary to get the good-paying jobs that are available.

Yes, there are some high school students who really enjoy maths and go into engineering. Likewise those who have a passion for the health care field. They will likely get good jobs. But what of those that don’t so much like math, or science, or studying? Perhaps the better focus for counselors would be pointing out where there are jobs, especially jobs that make good money. And then pointing out that good grades and a real focus on getting the skills needed to get into an appropriate degree program are how they will get those good jobs.

I suppose I was lucky in my career - I like engineering. I really do. But, hey, I like working on cars more, and, exercising, and working on clocks. These are all things I was able to get into because I had that job thing covered. To me, bottom line, people are paid to do jobs because they are just that: Jobs. Jobs provide the money we need to live, and, hopefully to do things we enjoy doing. In our off hours. And when we retire.

Sound like a bit of a rant - I suppose it is. I talk to young folk at the gym who are clearly bright, articulate, and motivated. And am a bit amazed at how many are going to college with a vague idea that they need to find something they really enjoy doing. When I ask them about placement statistics or starting salary for their chosen field I get blank stares. This is really not a good thing in the real world, where jobs are a little tight.

Retirement can be wonderful reality if we have prepared for it. That preparation starts in high-school, making that big decision on what career to pursue. The hope is that by the time today’s students retire they will have made the big ticket purchases, paid off the house, own their car(s), and generally not need as much to live comfortably after they retire..

At that point they get to think about what they might really enjoy doing. I’ve talked at length about my passion for old clocks, and how I prepared for retirement. Tomorrow I will post on how my wife is transitioning into her second career - in the health-care field.

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