Growing Up Is Hard to Do

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When small children are asked what they would like to be when they grow up, they often say, “I want to be a doctor.”  Have you ever wondered why?  Could it be that the doctor is the one person they see on a regular basis? Think about it.  How many occupations has a typical four-year-old been exposed to?  Could it be that part of your challenge when it comes to thinking about careers is that you see about as many careers as a four-year-old?

Take this quiz for me:

Make a list of all the jobs you can think of in a minute.

Does your list look like this?

Doctor (I helped you think of that one)


Grocery Store Worker

Postal Worker





How about Swarm Intelligence Engineer?

My reason for asking is not to make you feel inadequate; it is actually just the opposite!  I want to introduce you to a really fabulous resource on the internet that can help your list increase, and maybe introduce you to your life’s passion.  You may be familiar with it already.  It is or O*net OnLine, which is the government’s listing of all the occupations (get it, “O” net) currently in America.

O*Net online is a treasure trove, a veritable smorgasbord of ideas, to tantalize you with dreams of your future.  If you don’t have a clue what you want to do, start with the interest survey linked to the O*net on the website  This free interest survey asks simple questions about what you already know about yourself, and then links it to occupations related to your interests.  So if your interests are “Artistic, Investigative, and Social” like me, you will find out you like to do creative work, you like to search out facts and figure out problems, and you like to help people.  The cool thing is then that those descriptors can be used to connect back to the O*Net for a list of careers that fit those three interests. (Hint: From click on the “O*Net sites in the bottom right hand corner to get back to

Each occupation has a listing of the skills and abilities used, as well as the type of education or preparation required.  Then, and this is the really cool part, you can find out what a person in this occupation makes on average in each state and what growth is forecast in that industry over the next few years.  This will really impress adults when they ask you what your plans are!  Inevitably there is someone at graduation who wants to know why you are planning to become a Swarm Intelligence Engineer, so you can reply with, “Of course you know there is a projected 24% increase in need for Swarm Intelligence Engineers in the next decade.  They were consulted to project how the zombies acted in the movie World War Z.”  See, now you sound so smart!

So, if being a doctor, lawyer, or postal worker doesn’t make you quiver with career excitement, spend some time on O*Net online to find your dream career, or at least some interesting tidbits for graduation conversations.

Tami Peterson, BCE
Creative Engagement Officer at Life Architects Coaching
Tami has over 20 years of experience in the field of education. She was honored with the prestigious Guidance Professional of the Year award in 2010 from NACCAP, and has served on the NACCAP Board of Directors. She is currently the Creative Engagement Officer at Life Architects Coaching serving Christian secondary schools and colleges in the areas of management coaching, student development, college guidance, and coaching resources. She lives in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metro area with her husband David, and has two adult children.

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