When my son was in sixth grade he told me he wanted to design video games. Kenny had been using a computer since he was three. He learned math playing games, learned geography, probably learned a few things I didn’t know he knew.
Before that he wanted to be a storm chaser and a “mythologist” at different times. A mythologist, I found out, studies myths. Greek myths. Not exactly sure how a mythologist makes a paycheck, maybe telling stories? I guess anything is possible at six.
Anyway, by 11 he’d pretty much figured out he wanted to do video games. Funny thing is, he stuck with that plan all the way through high school and into college. I hope he makes it. He’s good at math, has done some programming, and is still motivated to achieve this goal. Has even planned his academic calendar through grad school. I admire that. I changed my career plan and major around six times in just the first year I was in college.
Over the first six weeks of this semester I’ve spoken to at least a dozen students who have changed their career targets and major as a result of being forced to think about what they want to do. I’ve probably spoken to a similar number whose career targets have only become clearer. Some of the better changes have included working in a National Park, supporting disabled employees, and helping low to middle income people manage their money.
Whether your career goal is affirmed or called into question, you are fortunate. You have direction. You have a destination in mind. Like Kenny, I hope all of you get there. Some of you will deviate from this goal. That’s fine, too. I hope it’s because you begin to dig in, seek internships and experiences, connect with mentors and professionals in the field, and make your decisions based on what you learn.
This kind of learning has nothing to do with definitions, steps in a process, or concepts. It has everything to do with learning about yourself, pushing past what is comfortable, and taking action of your own design. Some of you are excited by the opportunity. Some of you aren’t. Some of you are embracing the opportunity. Some of you aren’t.
The group that I most admire are those who aren’t really excited about all of this, but are stepping out of their comfort zone and doing it. You are the ones taking a risk. You are the ones working without a net in unfamiliar territory. To you I commit that I will support you without question. You can write me nasty emails, you can question every instruction I give you, you can argue if you like. But in the end, I want you to embrace the opportunity and take action. If you do that, I will never give up on you and will always be available to help. Because YOU are the one’s our office and the career classes were designed to help. Anyone can help the willing and excited. As long as you’ll step out on the rope, I’m here for the willing but skeptical.
I think it’s neat that my son has always known what he wants to do the same way that I think it’s neat that some of you are even more committed to the career goals you brought with you into our College. I think it’s REALLY neat that some of you are discovering new passions as a result of your conversations. But what is coolest of all, what motivates me every day, is knowing that someone out there who doesn’t really want to mess with all this, who was happy just reading definitions out of a textbook and picking “B,” is now thinking, “what will I do with my one wild and precious life?” Even if they think I’m a bastard while they do it… 🙂