Explore

Changing Your Mind About Your Career Path

Answering the question "what do you want to be when you grow up" is tough when you're a teen. It takes time to find the answer.

Mar 27, 2017

What do you want to be when you grow up? We get asked this question as soon as we can talk, and then we get asked it again and again and again. By the time we reach 18 we’re supposed to have figured it out. To be honest, I still don’t have it figured it out. I’ve changed my mind many times about what I want to be—this is the story of how I’ve wrestled with this tricky question.

What I wanted to be as a kid

As a small child, I was very set on becoming a firetruck. Of course, I realize now that this is not physically possible, but at the time I was determined!

Then, when I was in Grade 4, I decided I wanted to become a teacher. One of my role models was my grandmother, and she was a teacher in our small town. Everyone seemed to know and love her. To me, being a teacher seemed like the most amazing job in the world. I wanted to be known and loved by everyone in my town too!

My junior high career plan

When I got to junior high my inner diva sort of took over. I was driven to be unique, different, and special. And to me, those words didn’t really fit with idea I had of being a teacher. I decided that I wanted to grow up to be something new—something cool. It was around this time (grade 7) that I discovered my love of languages.

I was taking French in school and also trying to teach myself Ancient Egyptian. That was when I stumbled upon the career that would guide me throughout all of high school. I was going to be a Linguistic Anthropologist, someone who studies dead languages.

The diva in me loved that every time I said it people had to ask what it meant. The geek in me loved the idea that I’d be surrounded by ancient things. To help further myself in my chosen career path I travelled to Japan when I was in Grade 11 for a summer to learn Japanese. It really felt like I’d chosen the right path.

Choosing college instead of university

When I got to grade 12 and suddenly university was right around the corner, I kind of freaked out. (I know now that this is totally normal—you can read about how our Ambassador Madison also chose to go to college before she went to university).

Instead of going straight to university, I chose to go to college to pursue my interest in fashion. My dream of becoming a Linguistic Anthropologist was put on hold.

After completing my two-year Apparel Technology diploma from Olds College, an opportunity arose for me to go and work in Japan for a year. I got to work with kids all over the country and teach them about Canada. It was an amazing opportunity, so my linguistic anthropology dreams stayed on the backburner a little longer. The languages had been dead for centuries, they could wait another year.

I took two years off to figure out my career path

When I got back to Canada things had changed. I was no longer so sure that linguistic anthropology was the right path for me. My passion and drive had sort of fizzled out. So I spent the next two years trying to “find myself” and figure out my next step. Here’s how I spent those years:

  • I did a French Immersion program in Nova Scotia
  • I ran my Library’s summer reading program
  • I worked in a Pulp Mill
  • I backpacked around alone in Europe for 3 months
  • I worked in a children’s shoe store
  • I worked in a sewing machine store

I learned a lot about myself during that time. I discovered that retail wasn’t for me, and that I loved learning about other countries. Most importantly, I learned that my most rewarding experiences were when I was working with kids.

Back to my original plan

So I’ve returned to my elementary dream of becoming a teacher. But this time I’m a lot more confident in my decision. I’m currently working at Fort Edmonton Park in the Education department, where I get to teach kids about history. I’m also completing my education degree at the University of Alberta to become a drama and French teacher.

Can I say with total confidence that I’ve chosen the right path and will be a teacher forever? Of course not! But I know what the right path is for me right now.

Looking back, I realize it’s kind of crazy to expect young people to decide what they want to be when they grow up. It was important for me to take the time to figure out my interests and my passions, and try a few things before I settled on one.

If you’re feeling the pressure to make a decision, I hope my experience has shown you that you don’t have to have everything figured out by the time you graduate high school. You’ll figure it out eventually!

Heather

Education
University of Alberta

A farm girl from Northern Alberta, I've studied sewing, travelled, and now my discarded childhood dream to teach is my passion!

Check out Heather's profile »»