FutureSurfing

We are all FutureSurfers, surfing into the future with a backpack full of strengths and passions.

Why I never became a social worker

When I was 17 life was tough. OK so it’s nearly 30 years ago now, but I still remember it vividly. Life is tough for most teenagers. A combination of raging hormones, exams and huge uncertainties about the future… sound familiar? Back then I thought I was the only one with no clue what career path to follow, but it turns out I was pretty normal. Having studied Chemistry for a year without understanding anything, I went against my teachers’ advice (they really didn’t believe I hadn’t understood anything!) and dropped it, studying English Literature A level in a year instead. I should have dropped Maths too, because I failed that in the end, but I felt lucky because I got good enough grades in French and English to get into University.

So what was I going to do next? I had no clue, and neither it seemed did the Careers Guidance Officer who I was assigned by school. It wasn’t exactly her fault. With two socialist teachers for parents, I was passionate about social causes and wanted to change the world. So she suggested I study Sociology. I wasn’t so sure but I thought I might become a Social Worker.

Then in my first summer break from university, I applied for a temporary job with the local Children’s Home. For two months I helped care for a group of 10 to 16 year olds, and the experience was both scary and revealing. Caring for young people who have been abused and neglected was not a job I was well equipped to do. After playing tickling games with the only child I seemed to be able to connect with, a 10 year old boy, I was warned that this was not appropriate behaviour. I was really upset and embarrassed, and I also realised that I was never going to be a social worker.

It’s a pity though that nobody told me back then how important it is to consider your interests when choosing a career. Instead I focused on my skills, and my writing skills were a good fit for the marketing jobs I did over the next five years, it was just that ultimately, writing brochures and press releases for a banking software company didn’t really interest me much. Eventually, having moved countries twice (more of this in a future post OK?) I got really curious about finding work that was truly satisfying! I read a great book, got inspired, and retrained as a career and life coach.

Plenty of people I’ve met have similar stories to tell. It’s not that it’s necessarily a bad thing to have trouble finding work that we love, just that I have a hunch we can make it easier and smoother for the next generation. And that especially when you consider the projections for youth unemployment, we owe it to them to do our best to make it easier for their generation than it was for ours.

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