What are you going to be when you grow up?

“What are you going to be when you grow up?” is a question that follows us our entire lives.

The speculation begins when we’re still in diapers. An interest in Tonka trucks might be interpreted as a portent to a future career in construction or engineering. Pick up a rolling pin, and your parents will start daydreaming about having a world renowned pastry chef in the family. Show a penchant for dressing up? You’ll be an actor or a model one day, no doubt.

Some people seem to have their future career path predestined for them. They grow up knowing with absolute certainty that they are meant to be a teacher or a doctor or a law enforcement officer. As their friends oscillate between aspirations of being a firefighter or veterinarian, those chosen few never waiver in their determination. They’re not the ones who wait until the last second to declare a major their sophomore year in college.

Can you guess where I fell on the spectrum?

My chosen field of study when I entered Manhattan College was International Business. What did that mean? I had no clue, but it sounded good. I had no idea what career opportunities it could lead to or what it would entail, but I figured I had four years to iron out all those minor details.

At good old MC, International Business was only offered as a second major so I was still in the waiting-to-the-last-second-to-declare boat. I finally settled on economics, because I loved it. But I still had no idea what I’d do with it. I assumed I’d end up in some aspect of finance with the rest of my non-accounting business brethren.

Until the last semester of my senior year, that is, when I sat in on a research presentation by a Ph.D. in that field, and had something of an epiphany. It was then that I realized I’d rather poke my own eyes out with a sharp stick than work in any facet of finance for a living.

That was my first career about-face, and probably won’t be my last. (Not anytime soon, Jeff.) Apparently, I’m not alone. Studies show that the average American changes their career focus multiple times throughout their lives.

It’s probably true now more than ever. I think it’s safe to assume in the current economy, with major employers laying off sizable chunks of their workforce, there will be a lot of people shifting careers.

Which was why I thought a segment on last night’s John Tesh radio show, Intelligence for Your Life, was particularly apropos. I can’t remember the source of his information, but he listed the top and bottom three career/degree fields for those entering the job market in the current economy.

What was the worst of the worst? Print journalism. Ooops. Second was advertising. (There goes all those years in marketing down the tubes.) The third was architecture, which doesn’t bode well for an experienced architect I know currently looking to return to Central New York.

So what careers should Americans be pursuing? According to Tesh, nursing tops the charts. A thoroughly worthwhile profession, in high demand with good starting pay and excellent benefits. Sounds pretty good unless, like me, you get woozy at the sight of needles or blood. (I get faint just being in hospitals.)

A close second on the list was a computer programming. Another field I’d never be able to cut it in. I think “technology averse” would be apt description of my relationship with all things electronic, despite my former employment with the Consumer Electronics Association.

But number three, now that’s something I can relate to. What is it, you ask. Can you believe ... economics?

Apparently, there is hope for me yet.

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