” When I grow up I’m going to be… ” How often you must have said the words above when you were younger! You wanted to be a motion-picture star, an acrobat, a fireman, or a sailor. Now that you are older you realize that choosing a vocation is not a simple matter. In fact it is one of the most difficult and most important decisions of your life. Upon it depends your health, happiness, and usefulness. Soon you will be one of many boys and girls who each year go out in search of jobs.
Start preparing for your lifework now while you are at school. Study purposefully. You will save yourself many future headaches. True, a few find their lifework accidentally, but there are hundreds who never find their right vocations at all. About 20 per cent of workers are occupational misfits. Jobs change rapidly. Employment opportunities are different from when Dad was a boy. They differ from year to year. In the world today, for example, there are more than 300,000 different occupations.
To find the right life- work you need to study your interests and abilities and to explore a variety of vocations. Although there are a vast number of occupations from which to choose, certain traits are required for success in any field-accuracy, ambition, loyalty, and perseverance, for example. Is your supply of perseverance low? Do you become discouraged if you don’t succeed in something? What are you going to do about it? As a sensible young person who wants to get ahead in the vocation you choose, you are going to start right now to raise your perseverance index.
You are going to stick to a difficult task until you’ve mastered it, because you know that when you get a job or enter a profession, you will be expected to carry to successful completion every task you start. And what about punctuality? You had better form now the habit of being on time, for in business or a profession lateness will count heavily against you. What are your likes and dislikes? Do you prefer to work indoors or out? If four walls and a roof stifle your energy and initiative, investigate such vocations as agriculture, forestry, tree surgery, landscape gardening, aviation, fishing, merchant marine, and surveying.
Do you like to work with people, things, or ideas? If people interest you, perhaps you’ll enjoy the work of a teacher, physician, nurse, personnel interviewer, social worker, minister, salesman, receptionist, lawyer, insurance agent, or librarian. You’d rather work with things? Then such fields as manufacturing, bricklaying, carpentry, tool-making, welding, transportation, mining, dental mechanics, plumbing, repairing, air conditioning, and printing will probably interest you.
Or if ideas hold a deep fascination for you, you may be suited for scientific, literary, or economic research, reporting, writing, advertising, accounting, or designing. “But,” you are probably protesting, “I like to work with both people and ideas. ” That’s all right. The physician, the teacher, the minister, the lawyer, the librarian, and the reporter, to name but a few, deal with both people and ideas. The architect, the artist, the engineer, and the mechanic, on the other hand, work chiefly with things and ideas . Do you like to debate questions in social studies?
Do you enjoy tackling stiff examples in algebra or geometry? Do you stay after school to experiment in the chemistry laboratory? The subjects in which you do best and in which you take keenest interest show where your abilities lie. If you haven’t found your strong points, keep on searching. Try other courses-art, music, commercial subjects, or shop work. What do you do in your leisure time? Are you interested in photography? Do you spend happy hours in your laboratory or workshop? Have you a pile of manuscripts hidden away? Do you give puppet shows for the neighborhood children?
Do you like to fuss with flowers and plants? Out of your hobby may grow your vocation. As a boy Thomas Edison like nothing better than to tinker with the apparatus in his laboratory. Whatever you choose as your lifework, your chances for success depend in a large measure on your physical and mental well-being. Although your health is largely what you make it, there are individual differences in strength and endurance, which must be considered in the choice of a vocation. The work of an actor, aviator, or reporter is physically more arduous than that of a librarian or writer.
A physician, whose rest is interrupted by emergency calls, must have robust health. Select a vocation for which you are physically qualified. When young people enter a job or university/college, school officials are called upon to write letters of recommendation. What is your attendance record? Your school record? Do you participate in sports, other activities? Are you trustworthy? Even when there is a labor shortage, employers want to know these facts about their prospective employees. You are making now the record upon which the school’s recommendation will be made.
You are interested in a certain broad field of work it may be scientific, mechanical, or commercial. Or it may be artistic work, work with nature, or with people. You n also have a rough idea about your abilities. How are you going to know about the hundreds or even thousands of i different jobs in your chosen field? You probably want to – know the importance of the job, the kind of work, qualifications needed, pay opportunities, advantages, and disadvantages. Will the work you will be doing offer you the opportunity of making the lives of others richer and happier?
In recent years careful research has produced a wealth of printed information on almost every type of job. Reading can fill in the gaps in your job observation and experience. In every field there are jobs ranging from those requiring little training to those which require long training and constantly increasing skill. The jobs at the top are fewest. You may be an electrician’s helper or an electrical engineer; a draftsman or an architect; a filing clerk or a private secretary; a dressmaker or a dress designer. Each of these jobs is a useful one, and one may be a step to another.
If you have ability, energy, and determination, you will be wise to train yourself for one of the better positions in the field you select. One good way to learn about a vocation is to try it. Have you, like Thomas Edison, sold newspapers? Have you worked in a laboratory, store or garage? Have you done clerical work, coached weak students, or taken care of children? Through such work you may discover hidden talents. Even if you discover no special gift, your wage- earning experience will develop the self-reliance, poise, and sense of responsibility you will need in any vocation. Keep searching and you will find your lifework.