Thinking About Your Future
by Candice Ward
When I was your age, this was me:
I mean, I wasn’t in Twisted Sister, but I was that student who had no idea where my future was going. I just wanted to sit in my room and write cringe-worthy poetry and listen to new music with my friends. I had a tough time figuring out what career path to take, in part because there wasn’t much career counseling at my small time high school, but in a larger part because I didn’t know where or how to start following my passions effectively.
Not to sound too much like an old fart, but we’re lucky to live at a time where we have so many resources at our fingertips. Here’s a few ideas about how to use them as guides to figuring out what you want to do with your life.
Think about what you want to do. There are lots of tests you can take that point you in the right direction. They determine your skill sets and interests and give you job suggestions. This test is a good place to start.
Write down all your hobbies and interests. Try discovering new interests or hobbies, and see which ones are right for you. Ask yourself what you see yourself doing in the next five years. Ask yourself if you’ll truly be happy and/or making the impact that you want to make if you study a certain field, take a certain job or sell your creations on a site like Etsy.
Talk to people. Talk to people in the field that you want to go into. Want to become a musician? Go to shows and pick local artists’ brains about what it’s like to be a musician or hit up a college and make an appointment with a music theory professor. Want to become an accountant or work in finance? Get a subscription to the Wall Street Journal and call your nearest H&R Block to see if you can shadow an accountant or interview one to learn about their daily routine.
Get involved. Once you know what you want to do, find ways to gain experience. You may not have a job to put on there, but extracurricular activities show that you have passion, personality, and are hirable. No matter what your passion is, you can get a career in your field if you are driven enough. Volunteer your time or look for internships- some are even paid! Subscribe to all of the subreddits and tiktok accounts ever that have to do with your interests.
Plan, plan, plan. Whatever you decide to do, you have to plan ahead. Taking the traditional path at a university or technical school costs money, so it is best to save your job or allowance money to help defer your costs. Apply for grants and scholarships early and often, and contact your potential school’s financial aid office to see if they can save you even more money.
If you decide that school is not the path for you, pick a direction that you do want to go in! No matter what, set a budget for monthly living expenses (including funding for your hobbies!) and stick to it. Take into account your rent, electricity, internet/cable, Netflix, food, gas, insurance, etc. costs. Here’s a helpful link for budgeting.
Finally, don’t forget to invest in yourself. Many young women don’t even know- or think about- the earlier they start saving money – even $10 a month – the more their money can grow into a healthy retirement fund. It may seem like eons away, but the earlier you save, the earlier you can retire. Confused? You can take free online classes at courser.com from some of the world’s best universities. Not to beat a dead horse, but here’s a link to help you out.
Most importantly, stay confident and true to yourself. Listen to the advice of those who are older and wiser, but don’t be afraid to politely decline if their advice doesn’t apply to you. Other people may have the best of intentions for you and may offer you great guidance, but in the end, you know what is best for you. You are strong, you are capable, and you are bursting with potential. Go get ‘em, tiger!
Candice lives in California and loves singing, travel, and knitting. She is studying anthropology of fashion. This article was originally shared in our Challenges issue.