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Looking for direction? Ask the experts before you decide

Madelyn Mays

The ever pressing question that every adult in your life wants the answer to. What do you want to go into? What are you going to college for? What do you want to be when you grow up? I couldn’t count the number of times I, at the age of 16, have been asked these questions. My answer is the same every time. “I do not know.” This however, is not satisfying to the overly curious adults. So they continue to ask and ask and ask until they receive the answer they are looking for. Like me, most teenagers are not yet sure what they want to do with their lives after high school, or college.

Getting ideas for different careers is difficult. Have you ever considered opening a small business? Becoming a farmer? Maybe a college professor? Or a pizza shop owner? There is so many different options, and in this series we will be exploring many of those options, while getting answers from the professionals.

In this segment, I spoke with local counselor Kelly Ingleson about asking students what they want to be when they grow up. Kelly works with many students, many of which have to come up with an answer to this question sooner than later in life. Kelly’s opinion on the matter is simple: “It can be extremely anxiety provoking.” Kelly believes most adults use this question to start a conversation. This is understandable. “It certainly is not one I often find myself using,” says Kelly, talking about the question.

One of kelly’s main points was: it is all in the way the question is asked. “So, depending on how it is asked, under what circumstance and with what intention I believe it can be a thought provoking question both positive and negative,” says kelly. Kelly explained that the question can help students think of ideas about possible career choices, or it can causes stress and make students worried, depending on what way the question is asked.

As Kelly said, the context around the question is the most important part of it. “I will not pose the question as stated,” says Kelly, speaking on how she asks a student their goals for after high school or college. “I work with teens to look at time as multidimensional. It is important for character development that adolescents recognize that today is the most important thing in their lives but how you engage in it has great influence on tomorrow.” Kelly explained that she helps teens look to the future in a positive way, and in a way they want to, and are excited about. She will support them and help them work towards any dreams and goals they have, no matter how abstract.

“I encourage them to dream as big and as broad as they can,” says Kelly. As a counselor, she works with teens in all sort of different situations. She encourages them to dream as big as they can. She wants teens to think without limits, and shoot for the stars when creating goals. Asking the question “what do you want to be when you grow up” can sometimes limit these goals and dreams. “I use all kinds of skills such as: brainstorming, bucket lists, career testing, personality testing, asset identification and development, JoHari Window and any other communication that aides in the discovery of self,” says Kelly. She uses different techniques to help students find different ways to find a good career fit for them.

Next we discussed the influence of adults in a child’s life, when it comes to asking the question. “For example, if a child states that they want to be a Dr. in their third grade “ WHO AM I” project, I think a script is developed and delivered until that is what the child becomes,” Kelly explained. Holding a teen accountable for something they decided when they were young, and having this kind of an expectation for them can be damaging in the long run. “I don’t believe that we do a great job in our education system of helping kids find their passions. “In fact, if parents are not very proactive in conscientiously exposing children to all different types of career opportunities, they reach for what they know.” Kelly next explained to me some beneficial ways of introducing students to new and different career options, to help broaden their horizons. “Besides empowering our youth by involving them in placement opportunities throughout middle school and high school, I believe we could offer summer internships, job shadowing and trade skill opportunities that would benefit both the children and the adults,” says Kelly.

In the end, Kelly explained passion is the most important part of choosing a career. When you think about what you want to do when you grow up, don’t think about money, don’t think about your ability or skill, think about what will make you most happy. You can work for the money, and a little practice will make the skill aspect go away. “Besides empowering our youth by involving them in placement opportunities throughout middle school and high school, I believe we could offer summer internships, job shadowing and trade skill opportunities that would benefit both the children and the adults,” Kelly finishes with.

Choosing a career is difficult.

For those of you who have not a clue where you are going to end up after high school or college: don’t feel like you have to know. Take your time deciding, and as Kelly said, make sure it is a passion of yours. This series should help shine a light on some different career options you might not have thought of before. Next we will be talking to a counseling program director, and getting her professional information.

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