What do you want to do?

Kaipara College careers room display

Gemma Bayly, Year 12, Kaipara College.
“What do you want to do when you leave school?”
It is the most annoying, and commonly asked question. But as I’ve gotten older, I’m asked it more and more frequently. I dread big family gatherings, because I’m asked over and over and over again what my plans are for when I leave Kaipara College. I watch as my relatives’ faces process whatever I felt like telling them that day. Some are excited by the prospect of my possible career, but others give a concerned ‘Oh…” But if I say I don’t know what I might do, I can be greeted by a, “It’s a bit late, isn’t it?” I’m only sixteen!
Most teenagers just don’t know what they want to do. Some change their future plans weekly, and some just go through school aimlessly. I have to say, I envy the lucky kids who have known what they want to do since primary school.
I think for many teens, the real world is too far away to think about. It is only at Year 12 reality begins to hit. Some of my classmates have started to venture out into the world to take on new jobs, apprenticeships, or just do nothing. After the lockdowns, students who were staying at school just for sport or friends left, seeing no reason to stay longer. For the students who stay at Kaipara College, there are interviews with the careers advisor. We go into the careers room and return with stacks of prospectuses about universities. There are trips to the careers expo and universities visiting the school. It’s all a bit daunting choosing what to do for the rest of our lives. There are so many courses at universities and so many jobs that we don’t even know about. Then there are jobs that we thought were needed, but not at the moment, like pilots and air hostesses.
A few weeks ago, we had to choose our subjects for next year. Choosing subjects is difficult if you have no idea what you want to do. Even if you know what course you want to take at university, it is hard to know what subjects are actually necessary. Many people drop maths or physics after Year 11 because they don’t like them, only to find they need them after all to get into university. Then there are those who choose the easiest subjects they can, with no thought about their future. But will the subjects we take in secondary school matter all that much a few years after we leave?
With all this pressure put on teenagers to choose a job, I wonder how many adults are actually still doing the career they chose when they were younger. Will most of us end up changing our minds in a few years anyway? I’m interested to see what will happen.

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