What do you want to be when you grow up?

Navigating the tough questions that comes with adulthood

There comes a time when we are all asked the dreaded question: what do you want to be? For some, this is an easy question to answer. First year commerce major, Kaylie Stiles knew what she wanted to be since childhood. For others, like Alex Morrison, a second-year psychology major, this is a far more complex question. October 3-7 was career week at Mt. A and it got me thinking; how do we decide on our future careers?

Career week is a chance for Mt. A students to attend career development workshops, network with peers and employers, and learn about post-grad and summer work opportunities. The week kicked off with resume and cover letter workshops for anyone from beginners to those who needed a refresher on resume building. Other events included presentations from guest speakers, and a career fair featuring over 20 employers, and post-grad programs. 

These events aimed to help students put their best foot forward in the professional world. But what if you don’t know what you want? I, personally, don’t know where I am headed. In my quest to feel less alone in my indecision, I spoke with some fellow students. 

Kaylie Stiles knew she wanted to work in business since playing store as a child. “I guess it really started in grade 10 with my friend. We were in an entrepreneurial class,” she said. For this class, she explained, they were tasked with starting a small business within their school. This inspired Stiles to start her own small business, SK Jewelry, which was really a homemade lip-gloss company. She realized quickly after starting the business that jewelry was not her forte and made a switch. The success of her small business caught the attention of her school, and she was invited to attend seminars for developing small businesses. “That’s where the potential grew for me,” she said. 

Alex Morrision, alternatively, has considered many paths. Having started at Mt. A in aviation, Morrision wanted to be a pilot. She has also considered being an astronaut, dabbling in neuroscience, and even pursuing tattoo artistry. “Or I could just be a criminal, and make all my money that way,” she joked. “I really want to try everything before settling on one thing,” she said on a more serious note. Although she is currently not certain what she wants to be, when she figures it out, she wants to share it with the world. 

For a non-student perspective, I reached out to Margaret Tusz-King, Coordinator of the Summer Institute for Accessible Employment at Mt. A. Between discussing career week and other upcoming events, I asked how she decided on her career path. She told me she didn’t know if it was a decision. “I was going to be a lawyer […] then, I was going to be a doctor,” she recalled. However, she “was not comfortable in the competitive atmosphere in the university [she] was at […] [she] really was discouraged in [her] first-year of university because of those stressors.” Thus, she pursued pharmacy, and worked as a research pharmacist for 13 years. “But life caught up with me, both of my kids are autistic and there weren’t supports for them. […] I ended up learning a lot more about disability and autism and adult education, as a result of that life experience.” That led her to her current position at Mt. A.

In essence, Tsuz-King didn’t choose this career, it chose her. “You are not fixed at one thing at any point in your life,” she said. We are ever evolving and so is the workforce. As we make our way through university and beyond, she advises us all to “pursue what interests you, that’s what makes life interesting.”   

Whether you know what you want to be or not, you still may want some guidance. Fortunately, career week is not the last you’ll see of career development events at Mt. A. Tusz-King assured me there will be plenty to come, including “a slate of different workshops throughout the year of what we would call transferable skills, organizational management, time management, personal financial management,” and more. I implore you all to take advantage of these opportunities offered at Mt. A and be open to anything that comes your way. Like Tusz-King, a career just might choose you before you choose it.

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