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Career-Storming: What do you want to be when you grow up?

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Could this be the most outdated question of the decade?

It may have been a legit question in the early 90’s, when I was at high school. At that time, it was safe to say you could pick a career and find a secure job, until you were ready to retire, buy a caravan and travel around Australia.

Fast forward and we find ourselves in a place of rapid change, globalisation and digitisation. The choices are endless, as are some of the queues for highly sought-after, secure positions. It is unlikely that our young people will have a job spanning their lifetime, celebrated with a gold watch.

“"It's more likely that a 15-year-old today will experience a portfolio career, potentially having 17 different jobs over five careers in their lifetime". FYA; 2017

So, rather than focus on the expectation of one ‘dream job’, we should instead be excited about the raft of jobs our young people will be able to experience over their multiple careers, across various industries.

When I was in high school I wanted to be a PE Teacher. I liked sport, teenagers and telling people what to do…it seemed the logical choice according to my Careers Advisor. That was until I realised that high school students didn’t have the same love of sport as I did and preferred running laps of the oval, rather than take part in the lesson plan I had stayed up all night preparing.


My dream job hadn’t lived up to what I had anticipated. That moment could have been the end, had it not been for my sense of adventure, creativity and resilience.

Instead of setting ‘one-career’ goals, let’s help our young people to ‘career-storm’ their passions, learn what they’re good at and talk about all the things they are able to offer the world. We can then work with them to follow those passions through the many positions (paid and volunteer), freelance projects, businesses, start-ups and life adventures that they will experience as part of their work-life.

Not achieving your one-career choice can feel like a huge failure. So many adults I have spoken to that didn’t achieve their career of choice and instead had to find a suitable back up plan – in fact, too many to count.

What if instead, I had been asked what I was passionate about, I would have listed a whole heap of areas of interest: “I like helping people, graphic design, being outside and active, photography, inventing stuff, working in an office, wearing nice clothes to work, working with young people and having fun”. This makes for a far more interesting conversation, idea creation and opportunities to link to networks.


When there is no ‘one-career’ goal and the first door doesn’t open we have a whole host of passions lined up and ready to roll. Lessons learnt, experience gained, networks broadened, and we move on to the job, career, business, or opportunity number two, three, four, five….seventeen.

With a new perspective on ‘What you want to do when you grow up?’ you can career-storm up some pretty exciting options.

Crystal McGregor is an entrepreneur that works with young people to find their passion. YEP11 is a youth entrepreneur program that supports young people to identify a problem, based on their passion. The program builds an entrepreneurial mindset in young people, along with the confidence and resilience to be whatever they want to be. The program will be rolling out across regional NSW in 2019.

Cover Photo by imgix on Unsplash

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