Monday, November 12, 2007

Are You What You Wanted to Be When You Grew Up?

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

construction-working doc-tographer!

“When I grow up, I wanna be a firefighter,” says one kid. He ends up becoming a test pilot for the Air Force.

“I wanna be a doctor,” says another. She goes on to become a real estate agent.

“And I wanna be a sugardaddy.” He goes on to be President of the United States.

When you were growing up, you undoubtedly dreamt of what career you’d have one day. I was no exception, though I changed my mind about my future profession at least once a week. Here’s an abbreviated list of all my various career aspirations in roughly chronological order, starting at about age five.

  • Doctor (age 5)
  • Teacher (age 5)
  • “Businessman” (age 6)
  • U.S. President (age 6, for all of about three minutes)
  • Explorer (age 7)
  • Astronaut (age 8)
  • Captain of the Starship Enterprise (age 9)
  • Teacher, again (age 10)
  • Archaeologist (age 10)
  • Astronomer (age 11)
  • Artist (age 12)
  • Writer (age 12)
  • Lawyer (age 13)
  • Biologist (age 13)
  • Writer, again (age 14)
  • Physicist (age 15)
  • Mathematician (age 15)
  • Photographer for Playboy (age 16—yes, I’m serious)
  • Physicist, again (age 16)
  • Mathematician, again (age 17)

You can see the wide spectrum of career choices I explored before ultimately discarding all of them and becoming a computer science major and eventually a software/systems engineer. So what happened that caused me to give up my dreams of writing, exploring the cosmos, or taking pictures of naked women?

  • I realized I wanted a well-paying job. After being relatively poor during childhood, I decided that whatever job I had would pay well enough that my family would have a nice home and a secure financial future. Being a writer or teacher would have been great, but I’d have a harder time keeping food on the table.
  • I saw the demand in the computer field. While I spent most of my high school years wanting to be a physicist, the job prospects in that field were greatly diminishing since there hasn’t been much new in physics in the last 50 years.
  • I started to warm up to computers. I didn’t have my own computer until my teenage years, but once I did, it was hard to keep me off of it. While I did use it to further my writing and science interests, I quickly discovered that I simply enjoyed clacking away on that keyboard more than anything.
  • I grew up. Fast. Various personal events required that I go from age 12 to age 24 almost overnight. My dreams of “fantasy” jobs like astronaut and President were left behind, but I’m not really sad about that.
  • I lived near a great technology university. This sealed the deal. I got paid to go there and get my computer science degree, and I lived just 15 minutes away.

I like what I do now, though I’m not sure it’s something I plan to do for the rest of my professional life. I may eventually decide to become a teacher or a writer, but I’ll just save those aspirations for a mid-life crisis.

Did you become what you wanted to be when you grew up? If so, are you happy with your decision? If not, what happened?

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