By Anil Bedasie
A true headline grabber, but in reality, it’s a question that many young people of immigrant backgrounds have toyed with over and over during their teenage years. But let’s face it, the majority of young people in high school don’t have a clue as to what career path they want to pursue, because in reality, Google and other websites can’t give you a guaranteed answer, much less high school resources. College expenses are hardly affordable, student loans are a burden, and financial aid is tricky to qualify for with so many restrictions.
We are in the graduation season of 2023, and social media is brimming with proud parents and graduates glowing with pride with a great sense of accomplishment at their respective graduation ceremonies. And rightly so, for as immigrants, we know the value of that “piece of paper,” whichwill help to secure the future of these new graduates.
So let’s take a closer look at the majors or degrees type in the caption of some of these social media posts. Engineering, medical/healthcare, andlegal are some of the obvious ones.
For many years, immigrant parents tend toinfluence their kids to be one of the two noble professions – doctors and lawyers. And yes, so many of the kids echoed the words “I want to be a doctor.” But saying so and doing so is far from reality. Many college students have changed majors while in undergrad school, or even in the first year of medical schools or law schools. Who can envision what their job would look like if they don’t spend time doing it?
A quick search on Google for the top career choices of 2023, specificallyfrom theUS News and World Report, explains that finance, medical and information technology (IT) top the list of the most sought out career choices.They pay well, challenge our dedication, match our talents and skills, aren’t too stressful, offer room to advance into management roles, and provide a satisfying work-life balance.
So how does a young person begin to choose a career? Well, Google’s Coursera[https://www.coursera.org/articles/how-to-choose-a-career] provides this simple guideline:  Examine yourself (and I don’t mean physically) – What do you enjoy doing?  Reflect on your motivations, like, is salary important to you, or work/life balance? What are your long-term goals?  Take some self-assessment tests to get some idea based on your responses.  Explore sectors like private companies or public (city,state, federal) or even non-profits.  Explore different industries that you may like, such as financial, medical, manufacturing, or even legal. You can also seek out professional resources through high school guidance counselors and discuss your values, passions, and short- or long-term goals.You can attend colleges’ Open House Days andHigh School Alumni Association events, and look at guides online, like “Indeed Career Guide” or “Gallup’s How to Choose A Career.”
And what about those who are not interested in college? Well,those who pursue jobs in the trade industry can make a good living as well. Skilled trades as a career seems to be a lucrative choice for many high school graduates. Some examples include electricians, plumbers, and constructionworkers. To avoid the college loans burden, trade schools offer training, apprenticeships and career transition after completion of their programs. Some join their craft’s trade unions for their protection, representation and fair working conditions.
By 2028, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 10% growth for those working in the trade industry,with reference to stability and job security. Another option is the U.S. military, which has great benefits as well.
So, choosing the “right” career is not easy, but it is something that young people in high school need to think about. It’s important in paving the way to economic security, and parents, please have that “talk” with your children on what career paths they are thinking about and what the reality is of their ambitions.You can guide them, but don’t dictate in the decision-making process.You should allow them to explore and discover what they would enjoy doing for 50 years of their life as a profession.
Some additional factors young people should consider when thinking about a careerare working hours, commuting, relocation to other parts of the country, and finding companies that embrace diversity, equity and inclusion, especially for immigrants.
Many immigrant parents want their children to succeed and continue the American dream. They sacrifice by coming to a new world and building a new life from scratch, and creating the opportunity for their children to get a college education. They may or may not have been able to guide their offsprings in choosing a suitable career, but their hearts are in the right place, and their blessings for their success in life is genuine.
In conclusion, keep in mindthat you don’t have to join the bandwagon to become a doctor or lawyer. There are so many choices for young people to pursue in choosing a career, but remember, one day you will be joining the workforce in some type of profession. You will spend approximately 80,000 hours of time doing something you enjoy and making tiny contributions in the ever-changing world, so use this time wisely. At retirement, you will appreciatethe personal accomplishments in your career. Now the question arises – did you make a good, great, or bad choice when you declared your college major?