Read What Color Is Your Parachute? Online

Authors: Carol Christen,Jean M. Blomquist,Richard N. Bolles

Tags: #Juvenile Nonfiction, #Business & Economics, #Careers, #School & Education, #Non-Fiction

What Color Is Your Parachute? (11 page)

BOOK: What Color Is Your Parachute?
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I wish I would have known that there were opportunities to earn a comfortable living much closer to the types of dreams and interests that I had in high school. I was an avid lover of maps back then. Had I known that being a cartographer was an available career, I would have fervently pursued it.
—ADAM HOVERMAN, DO, family practice physician, age 30

If one of your interests is skateboarding, your fields might be athletics, recreation, or kinesiology (the study of the principles of mechanics and anatomy in relation to human movement). If you choose the field of athletics, you might become a skateboarding coach; if recreation, you might become involved with designing a skateboard park or program for skateboarders; if kinesiology, you might design skateboards that are easier and safer to use, and also more flexible for doing various maneuvers. In each case, your training and education (for example, choice of training or college majors) would vary.

Here’s another example. One of Tamara’s interests is medicine. Because her best skills involve taking care of sick or injured people, she wants to be a nurse. But there are many types of nurses and many places in which Tamara can use her nursing skills. What kind of nurse she becomes will depend on what type of training she completes, what major she chooses, and also what her other interests are. The field of medicine is quite broad. Here are some nursing jobs Tamara could pursue:

In this book, we’ve used the words “career” and “job” interchangeably. Other people give these words specific meanings. You can usually determine the meaning of the word by how it is used. “Your career” refers to your total time in the world of work. A “career” means a series of jobs in a related field. To build your first career pathway, first find a career field you will enjoy, then learn about specific jobs in that field. As your knowledge of a career field grows, your job goals will probably change.
• If she wants to work with children, she could be a pediatric nurse. Pediatrics is the field in which she’d use her nursing skills.
• If cancer care is a strong interest, she could be an oncology nurse. (Field = oncology)
• If she is most interested in emergency medicine, she could be an emergency room nurse, work on a search-and-rescue team, or be part of a Life Flight medical team. (Field = emergency medicine)
• If Tamara is also very interested in recreation, she could be a nurse on a cruise ship or at a large resort. (Field = recreation)

As you can see in Tamara’s case, and in the case of someone who likes skateboarding, the same job can happen in many different fields, some of which you’d like and some you’d hate!

  1. Turn to
My Parachute
and look at the section entitled My Favorite Interests.
  2. Consider each of one your interests. What are the different occupational fields where could you use your interests? Try to name at least two or three for each interest.
  3. List these jobs on a separate piece of paper or in your journal. This list isn’t set in stone; as you learn more about different jobs you may want to cross out some items or add new ones.
If you need some help translating your favorite interests into particular jobs or careers, talk with your parents, school counselor, or librarian, or the staff person at a career center. Many websites, like
, can also help to translate your interests into fields or industries.

Exploring Potential Dream Jobs

Now that you’ve identified your fields of interest, it’s time to explore some potential dream jobs. Perhaps you have a clear idea of what those jobs may be. If so, that’s great. But if you don’t, don’t despair. Here are some steps you can take to help you discover potential dream jobs to explore:

• Show your parachute to people whose opinions and suggestions you trust. Ask them for ideas about jobs that might match your fields of interest and your skills.
• Read tons of information about different occupations. Libraries and career centers have materials about many kinds of work. Start by finding and reading this general information. Ask the librarian or career center staff to direct you to resources that will help you find jobs that fit your fields of interest and skills.
• Do an Internet search to find information about specific jobs or careers. (There’s a list of useful websites at the end of this chapter.)
• Read magazines and newspapers and watch TV. When jobs are mentioned, which jobs interest you? Keep a list of those jobs or cut out articles on them.
• One of the best ways to figure out if a line of work is a good match for you is to talk to people who have worked in that field for a while. If you want to continue living in the same region where you currently live, there are several ways to find local people doing work that interests you:
- Ask adults you know if they know people who work in the fields that interest you or do some of the jobs that interest you. Get contact information (name, email, phone number, or mailing address) for each name you get. Have an adult you trust help you come up with a phone script or email asking for time to talk with them about their jobs or career.
- Check out the Yellow Pages of your local phone book. Start with Z and read backward (starting at the back puts the information in an unexpected order, so you see things you’d miss if you started with A as usual). The Yellow Pages list many of the jobs that exist where you live. Make a list of categories that have jobs you are curious about. Call the businesses listed in these categories to find someone to talk with about the jobs that interest you most. (City, county, state, and federal government agencies have jobs too. These agencies are generally listed in the front of phone books.)
- Find the labor force projections for the county in which you live. Contact your local state employment office (every county has at least one location). These projections let you see which occupations are in greatest demand where you live (or want to live). Not all projections become reality—another reason to talk with people in your area who are doing jobs you might like or to employers who hire for those jobs. To make a good decision about what careers to pursue, you need firsthand information. Ask your favorite adults to help you find people to interview. And remember, this is just to broaden your information gathering—such projections shouldn’t be the basis for a life decision, as they can and do change.

After you’ve gone through these steps, you should have at least two or three job possibilities to explore.

Thirty-eight percent of the college graduates we surveyed said that their knowledge of the work world was extremely limited. They felt they had not chosen the best major and would have made very different career choices if they had known about a greater variety of jobs. Due to student loans and other financial realities, going back to school for further studies wouldn’t be possible until they had worked a few years,
In contrast, a study of university graduates in England reported only 20 percent felt they had studied the wrong subject. The difference? University-bound students in Great Britain have an extra year of high school and must take a “gap year” before continuing to higher education. British students start college older (in their early twenties) and are encouraged to use their gap year to explore the field in which they hope to work.
BOOK: What Color Is Your Parachute?
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