What do you want to be when you grow up?
Obviously, I grew up to be a roofing contractor in South San Francisco. But, when I was very little, I was pretty sure I would be either a cowboy or a firefighter. Later, as schooling taught me to look up to the sky, I was certain I would be an astronaut. Early in my teens, that passion moved to sports and I was entirely confident my skills would land me in the Majors.
When we are young, the world is full of possibilities, and we believe we can do anything. As we are shaped into mature(ish) adults, the reality sets in that it is time to choose a path; one based on desire, ability, passion, and a cocktail of random circumstance and opportunities. How do you decide?
That is where Career Day steps in. Career Day is an opportunity for educators to expose students to as many career opportunities as possible, with real people from the area visiting the school to tell everyone what they do, what it’s really like, and how to go about achieving it.
Don’t Play Career Roulette
Parkway Heights brought in 37 guest speakers to educate their students about various careers. If you hadn’t guessed, I was one of the lucky guests who got to attend. Along with a radio personality, a barber, police and firemen, a personal trainer, politicians, healthcare workers, and many more. Each presenter got to meet with students in a classroom setting during three periods of the day.
We were able to do some show and tell, using our personal experience to give the youth a glance into what it is like to be us. These students are at the perfect age to start thinking about, and making conscious decisions about, their futures. My aim was to help them gain some real life perspective.
When given the opportunity, they asked me many questions, and most of those would be what you might expect. ‘How does a normal day go?’ or ‘What are the best and worst things about your job?’ I, too, had the chance to ask them a few questions in return.
Most of these kids are still discovering who they are, and aren’t sure what they want to be, just yet.
I asked them what they wanted a lot of out of life. What is it that they want in abundance? There is no right answer, except the one that gives you personal satisfaction.
Some careers will give you an abundance of money, fame, scientific achievement, or the chance to create. Some careers might give you an abundance of opportunities to help your community. Some will allow an abundance of time with your family, while others will require significant amounts of time. They may not know exactly where they want to end up just yet, but knowing what their priorities are will help them figure out their path.
Other students may have an idea of what they want to do, already have a skill or a passion that is under development. To them I say engage in every opportunity they can and become masters in their chosen field. It will take hard work and sacrifice to get there (wherever “there” is), so get started now before life gets in your way.
Discover your work, then give yourself to it.
There are few more satisfying feelings than going to work, loving what you do, and having pride in what you have done that day.
The good thing is, such satisfaction is possible whether you wear a hardhat, a hairnet, or a helmet (as part of your EMU spacesuit) to work everyday.
I am proud to be a roofer in South San Francisco, and I am grateful that I was able to share my journey with the students at Parkway Heights Middle School. Go Panthers!
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