Tag: jobs

What do you want to do when you grow up?

When I first started school I wanted to be a teacher. Who wouldn’t want to boss everyone around? By fourth grade, I loved making up stories, so I decided I wanted to be a novelist. Later…solving mysteries seemed exciting, so how about becoming an FBI agent?

Like most kids, my thoughts about the future vacillated from one end of the realistic spectrum to the other end of unrealistic. Dreams are grand. Dreams inspire us to reach higher.

Dreams are dreams. Expectations are a 1000-pound weight on a tired swimmers back. Throw them into the sea of swarming high school students who think they know everything. Is it any wonder kids drown?

When you know your purpose

I wrote my first “book” when I was nine years old. I filled dozens of spiral notebooks with short stories, longer stories, poetry and general musings from that time until after I graduated from high school.

Writing has always helped me express my emotions and sort out my problems. It’s safer to bleed your secrets on a sheet of paper than divulge them to people. A pen ranting on notebook paper gets a person in much less trouble than a verbal confrontation.

My yearning has always been to write. I used that yearning to write copy for a non-profit newsletter, lessons for classes I taught at church, and plays and skits for the youth group to perform.

I submitted a few stories to contests when I was younger. Tried my hand at writing articles and even wrote a novel. Rejection letters deterred me. My family needed me to be present in the moment rather than rattling around my make-believe worlds.

Most people don’t know what they want to do until they’re at least in high school. Some people don’t discover their “calling” until the age of 40, 50 or beyond.

If you’re 18 and don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, big deal. Don’t decide you won’t grow up until you do know. Follow a path. Experiment with different things. Purposelessness has a purpose when you’re using it as a barometer.

How to find your purpose

Some people volunteer at the animal shelter and they know they want to be a veterinarian. Others volunteer at the veterinarian office and decide they love animals, but doctoring the four-legged creatures isn’t how to express it.

The only way to find your niche is by doing. Try sports. Try theater. Try writing for the school newspaper (I did). Sing in the choir. Play in the band. Sell lemonade and deliver newspapers.

My oldest son found out he didn’t want a manual labor job after he worked at one for the summer. It inspired him to work hard in school so he could go to college. How did he know he wanted to be a computer programmer? You’ll have to ask him. His dad is and he always wanted to follow that path. Go figure.

My husband went to college to be an electrician. Yep and he ended up as a computer engineer. Electrical engineer or computer engineer. Slight difference, right? He’s been happy with the choice.

Some people like to do many different things. That could mean they would be happy in multiple fields. It might involve tons of experimentation before they find the right fit. Don’t give up. Keep trying.

You never know until you try. Words to live by – just saying.

What stands in the way

Let’s face it, when you’re a teenager, plenty of things stand in the way of finding out your genuine heart’s calling.

A short list:

  • Teachers: you know the one’s I’m talking about “You’re the best artist I’ve had in years”
  • Parents: “Writing? But what will your day job be?” “You’re going to take over the family business, right?”
  • Friends: “You should go to Western because I’m going there.”
  • Money: You either have it or you don’t. Don’t let that limit your vision.
  • Locale: If you live a million miles from nowhere, it’s hard to know if you’d like a career in the city or some other more urbanized setting.
  • Other nay-sayers: “What can you do with a degree in history?” “If you don’t go to college, you’ll never amount to anything.”

What other things have you heard that made it difficult to find your true calling? If you have advice or experience, please share it in the comments.

Electronic Job Search

Times have changed. The new paradigm of job hunting aptly reveals this truth.

Not that I was a fan of “beating the streets” but it seems so impersonal to search for a job from behind my computer.  There’s no such thing as an application anymore, but there is an electronic application process.

I’ve discovered that searching online for jobs could be never-ending. The ability to refine searches only eliminates all possibilities from view. Thus, a wider range must be left in place offering hundreds of hits on every job search site. And these sites rival the number of open positions they advertise.


I have a profile on LinkedIn. It isn’t very exciting, but I plan to spend some time sprucing it up now that I’m officially finished with college.

Many of the jobs I apply for use my LinkedIn profile to fill in their online application. In fact, I applied for a technical writing job with Kelly Services and they did just that, even though I found the job opportunity on another job search website.

It seems to me that learning the appropriate key words to use in your profile is essential. I don’t claim to know what these are or that I’ve gotten them in place. I do know that using job descriptions that are posted online can help you identify these words.

Online Application Process

The ease of applying for positions online, when compared with the old-fashioned completion of a double-sided job application, amazes me.

Most of the sites I’ve applied to use either my resume (after I upload it) or my LinkedIn profile to auto complete most of the form. The worst thing about this process is that some things aren’t converted or are put in the wrong place.

For example, a job I recently applied for didn’t have the correct dates and my job titles got matched to the incorrect employers. It was simple to fix these errors, but if I hadn’t reviewed the form carefully, I might have missed them.

There’s always a review page and then the opportunity to return to the earlier pages and correct information. However, the process generally requires clicking through every page, so it isn’t a quick fix.


  1. Information overload: As I mentioned, sometimes there are just too many positions to wade through. A better system for narrowing results needs to be invented. When I applied on the Kaiser Permanente site, they had a streamlined process for narrowing the prospective jobs. Employment advertisers should mimic this system.
  2. Lack of specificity: Based on certain keywords, a plethora of jobs will be displayed. For example, if I have “management” in a search field, the variety of the postings is vast. Again, some websites do a better job of narrowing the search, but not all of them. Employment advertisers should have two or three levels for even a basic search. For example: I could choose “management” and then “publishing” and then “editorial” and be assured that only editorial jobs would be displayed.
  3. Sterility: What is the office environment like? What sort of commute will it entail? There’s no way to be informed about these sort of questions with the online job search. What a waste to head to an interview only to discover the commute would be brutal or the staff seems unhappy and unfriendly.

Impersonal approach

I think the biggest shortfall of this new, expedited, technologically advanced method of applying for jobs is the lack of personal interaction.

Appearances aren’t everything. Appearances can be deceiving. Unfortunately, many times the external qualities of an employee are quite important. For example, in a customer service industry where this person will interact with stakeholders face-to-face, employers want that “face” to represent their company accurately and positively.

Any experiences with this new method of job hunting you’d like to add? I’d love for you to share your wisdom with me (since I’m a newbie).

After Graduation

This time of year, people all over America are asking the question, “What happens after graduation?”

Does this middle-aged coed have an original question?

Well, no, but my answer comes more quickly to my lips than what a high school graduate might flippantly toss into conversation. I might even have a more definitive plan than many college graduates.

Unfortunately, I’m not one of those who have a job waiting for me on the other side of graduation. Of course, I don’t really want one, either.

I’ve halfheartedly sent out a few resumes and responded to a few jobs that interested me on LinkedIn. My heart screams, “No! I’m going to write.”

My mind cajoles, “It’s a trap! How will you live without a regular paycheck?”

It’s nice that my son’s roommates have jobs waiting for them. They had been interning at this company over the past summer (or two). My son hoped he might be able to find employment there and just continue his comfortable living arrangements after graduation.

No regular jobs are available, but they’re looking for interns.

I wonder if he’s been submitting resumes and cover letters with more enthusiasm than I’m displaying. After all, he really is just starting out. He needs to get a job so he can become completely independent of his parents and be ready to pay back those thousands of dollars he borrowed in student loans.

I have a husband. My husband is an engineer. He makes good money. I have a small amount of debt from my degree, half of which was accrued so I could contribute cash to our youngest son’s education.

What happens after graduation?

I’m getting on a plane and flying to Boston, MA. After a few days there, I board a transatlantic flight to Amsterdam and then Munich. While my husband works, I will soak in the German culture. I plan to see a few museums, gardens and castles.

When I get back to the United States, I’m going to go to a friend’s wedding. The day after that, my friends and family will celebrate the multi-graduation occasions at a barbecue.

Two weeks after that, I will co-host a large garage sale with my sister. Hopefully, my house will be garnering much attention from interested buyers. If that’s the case, it may not be many weeks after the sale that I’ll be packing up my house and moving.

Amidst all of this, I will finish my WIP. I will edit the manuscript and get a copy ready for the classroom of beta readers I’ve been promised at the middle school where I will no longer work.

What are your plans for after graduation? Or perhaps you just have summer plans you’d like to share. I love hearing from my readers.