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Don’t Know What You Want to Be When You ‘Grow Up’? Don’t Worry


The whole idea of career planning is to lay out some sort of road map, to get you from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow, next year, or five years from now. But what about if you have no idea what you want for a career?


(Photo Credit: Specialist Photography/Flickr)

You’re in good company. Whitney Caudill, former lawyer and current associate dean at Manchester University, recently wrote a column for The Huffington Post touting the benefits of the unplanned career.

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“I graduated from law school 10 years ago and did what I thought I was supposed to do; I took a job at a law firm,” Caudill writes. “I practiced law for three years. I found that the negatives of practicing law outweighed the benefits, for me. I am not made to work 6.5 days a week, take no vacation, and be anxious all the time — that is how practicing law made me feel.”

Caudill left the firm, and charted a path in academia. Her story is significant, not only because it shows that you can be successful in a very different job than that one you envisioned for yourself in school, but because it underscores an important truth about careers in general: sometimes, we don’t know what we want to do, until we try something else, and it doesn’t work out.

This is one reason why career counselors advise their clients to intern or shadow in fields they think they might be interested in. It’s not just to make connections — it’s also to help workers realize when they don’t connect with the job.

So don’t worry if you’re not sure what you want to be when you grow up, even if you’re long past the age when people stop using that expression without air quotes. Sometimes, the old cliches are true: life is what happens when you’re making other plans.

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How your career goals changed over the years? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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