Youth careers: dreaming for real

Youth careers often start young
Youth careers start young.

Youth careers are a fluid thing. Times are changing. New careers exist that our parents have never even heard of. Doors close and window open. What do you want to be when you grow up? Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true! Because we’re human, we’re born with the capacity to imagine our lives. While some children drive fire trucks or police cars; others bandage their brothers or doctor their dolls; and future choir conductors teach the neighbourhood kids to sing…

What makes you lean in to life?

The lucky ones amongst us knew early and exactly what they wanted to do. They seemed to dance onto the stage of their adult lives, knowing the moves before anyone else had even learnt the rhythm. Many people – arguably most people – don’t get the chance to follow their dreams. They have to try out a number of steps, wander down various paths, before finding deeply satisfying careers. If ever!

Education might not be your final destination

Many JumpStart alumni didn’t specifically set out to become maths teachers in life. They discovered tutoring – and employment – by happy accident. Fortunately, most of them are great at what they do. They discovered suitable careers that fit their personality, interests and capability. They discovered a love of the work, and enjoy getting up each day. But what about you? Did you have something else in mind?

Your current work experience is not just a way of earning a salary. It is also an opportunity to redirect yourself. Maybe you will discover that teaching science or English is what you would prefer to do. It’s important that you keep wishing actively.

Hone your focus

What does that mean? Keep focused on your intentions. Stay alert to opportunities to redirect your life. Remember your aspirations. Was it engineering, law, finance? Perhaps your true desire is to be an entrepreneur. Maybe Covid-19 has unlocked your thinking about health or sustainability…

Many StudyAssist applicants came to teaching from unrelated study tracks like nursing and social work. Seemingly, their dreams have been abandoned. If disappointment is part of the picture, you are definitely not alone! Many of us end up doing something other than what we really want to. The good news is that it’s never too late. Every thing in life is a stepping stone. It may seem like a detour, but you can keep your dream alive while moving closer to your particular goal.

Youth careers – tips for expanding your horizons

      • As you gain valuable work experience, aim to prove yourself a reliable and consistent colleague. This provides you with a great reference at your next job interview.
      • While you consolidate new skills, stretch yourself by engaging with people that you are uncomfortable with.
      • Learn a quieter way of interacting if you’re an extrovert. Become a team player if you’re an introvert.
      • Practice writing the perfect email.
      • Use your current situation to master technologies such as Gmail, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Excel, beneficial skills in any future career.
      • Take on new responsibilities that might surprise you with an unexpected pathway to real joy.
      • Read! Martha Beck’s Finding Your Own North Star – How to Claim the Life You Were Meant to Live is a terrific book about reimagining your career.
      • Register for a course online. Try Udemy and SkillShare for creative endeavours, or for more academic pursuits, try The Open University or Coursera.

Wherever you are, use the opportunity to think big and work hard. And get back to your dreams! Read how JumpStart alumnus, Siduduzile Mthembu, found her joy in ECD and entrepreneurship after a detour. Youth careers change along the way. Your dreams can materialise if you wish wisely and plan well. Never say never!

Cover image courtesy of IIONA VIRGIN

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