I often wonder what kids these days want to be when they grow up. I ask this, because people don’t have ‘normal’ jobs anymore. All my friends have job titles that give absolutely no indication what they do for a living and to be honest, even after they’ve explained it I’m not always sure I really understand what they do. When I was a kid it was still very much a case of wanting to be a nurse or a policeman but this did quickly change and by the time I was 12 I wanted to be a journalist and shortly after that an interior designer.

Image source: LA Times
Image source: LA Times

When it came to actually needing to have a clue about what I wanted to be when I grew up – I had no idea and annoyingly this was the time when it mattered. Choosing which college you went to, which A Levels you did and if you wanted to go to University or not. At 16 it seemed awfully young to be deciding what you wanted to do for the rest of your life – but if in a few years you wanted to be a doctor for example, then you would have needed to have studied science-based A Levels at college.

I went for the option of choosing subjects I enjoyed – so stuck with the likes of English Literature and Theatre Studies – but as the years passed I felt even more uncertain about what I wanted to do. When it came to University I decided I wanted to study English – but when I didn’t make the grades (even though I got 3Bs!) rather than opting for what I wanted to be I opted for where I wanted to live – and skipped off down to Brighton to study an entirely different subject – Psychology.

I never wanted to be a Psychologist – or anything related to the subject. I think in my second year I had a stint of wanting to work in mental health but that was about it – I just thought it was an interesting subject. Whilst I was at uni I started working with teenagers with behavioural problems and then both teenagers and adults with learning disabilities. This might sound like a choice, but actually I was just after some work and a friend who worked at the college said they had some vacancies – so I fell into it. After University, I carried on working there for a while but the money was so crap I had to find another job – and found myself right back to square one – thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Image source: Melanie Toye

Like any recent graduate will tell you, it is incredibly hard to find a job straight after uni. I spent six months applying for anything and everything ranging from amazing jobs that I thought sounded awesome (I was a little obsessed with the idea of working for Connexions back then) to jobs that would simply pay the bills (I had several instances of getting to second round interview phase for a job as receptionist to an estate agents). In the end I managed to ‘fall into’ a great job – an account management role for a digital marketing technology company – where I ended up staying for five years and working my way up to be the head of training and education.

Seven years after leaving University – I’m still working in digital. I tried out a lot of things – account management, training, support roles, in house marketing – and along the way learnt what I was good at, what I was bad at, what I didn’t like doing and what I loved doing. I now run my own business and enjoy what I do, but I never set out with the goal of being self-employed – or even working in marketing. In some ways I’m still slightly true to my 12 year old self – as I do a lot of writing for my job, run two blogs and of course write for HTC – but I definitely feel for me it was a case of falling into something and it being alright. I could have quite easily have fallen into managing art exhibitions, or event management!

These days, it seems this is how most people find their feet in the working world. They find themselves at a bottom of a certain career ladder and just give it a go. If it doesn’t work out, then they just hop on over to the next one and see how that fits instead. These days, people do seem to have such specific jobs – I honestly have no idea how children know what they want to be when they grow up. Or perhaps they are actually running around the playground claiming they want to be a social media and community engagement officer or a technical specification analyst!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

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