Dream Job

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As kids, we just didn’t worry about the practicalities that we’ve grown to accept as part of everyday life. We didn’t worry about money, we didn’t worry about failure – we just knew what we wanted to do. We were driven by our passions.

The results of a survey done by LinkedIn from 2012 show that 30% of respondents currently have their childhood dream job or work in a career related to their childhood dream job. I was not able to find the breakdown of the 30%, but think it safe to assume that 30% of the 30% actually have their childhood dream job. So since the survey included “over 8,000” professionals I figure that 720 of them have their dream job (9%) and 1,680 (21%) are in a related career. Therefore, 91% of the respondents are NOT in their dream job.

The same survey states that the most common reason for not being in that job is that as respondents got older, they “became interested in a different career path.” The study does not say, but it seems likely to me that if the discussions were boiled down we would find four possible reasons. It could have been that:

  • passions changed as they learned more about the world,
  • an understanding of the work required to get the job was overwhelming,
  • an understanding of the skills required to get the job created what appeared to be an insurmountable gap, or
  • the type of work was not supported by those around the individual.

A related study conducted the Toluna Group for Discover Financial Services in 2013, makes me believe that most people who are not in their childhood dream job did not have a change in their passions. According to this study, the most important criteria when choosing a major for students is that they dreamed of a particular job since childhood, but parents put the emphasis squarely on having a job after graduation. Upon graduation, the graduates felt that the biggest benefit of college would be preparation for a job that pays well and parents hoped that their young graduates would have a degree that would allow them a wide range of job choices. Given that neither parents nor graduates were concerned with their dream job upon graduation, I feel comfortable in concluding that something other than their passions changed along the way. It’s particularly concerning to me that the graduates went from wanting to choose a major that aligns with their dream job to wanting to get a job that paid well.

I loved two things when I was a kid – I loved technology, and I loved books.

I started programming in grade school, spending more time in the computer lab in 4th grade than in my classroom. I may be one of the few kids who learned assembly language programming on a Commodore-64. I was getting paid for programs when I was in high school, and had a summer job as a programmer in college. I am, alas, no longer paid to program although I do still do some on the side – I am a technology and strategy consultant, so I think I fall into the “related field” category. I stopped programming because that was the career path that was before me, and I followed it.

I wrote a little bit in college, but nothing ever came from it. I haven’t written since then, but I am working on it now through my blog. My goal, as I’ve shared, is to end up with a book deal and opportunities to speak publicly about my passions.

So, are you in your childhood dream job, a related field, or something totally different? Why?

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