What will you be? Doctor? Lawyer? Cowboy? Indian Chief? Our oldest son told his first grade class that I was a policeman. A policeman was cool and he told us that he could not explain what a professor was. A little prayer on this issue of career choice might be helpful but there are four factors that one might want to keep in mind.
First, pick something that you can do. High school students would come to college information fairs and tell me that they wanted to be civil or mechanical engineers. My first question to them was, what kind of a math student are you? I developed a math phobia in high school. If you are not a good math student or at least are a person who is not afraid of math then engineering is not for you. Civil and mechanical engineers take at least four courses in calculus.
Second, find something that you like to do. Today with all of the opportunities for training and education people have choices. My maternal grandmother came to this country from Hungary in 1905. She had no marketable skills. My grandmother made a living for herself and my mother as a shopper. This was American before the internet and online shopping. My grandmother would take mass transit and to to the wholesale merchants to buy things for her well to do clients who did not have the time to shop. She brought back stockings, underwear--whatever those women wanted. My grandmother bought items at the wholesale price, delivered them in person to her customers and charged the retail price as if they had gone shopping themselves. She did this because she had to. My maternal grandfather was a law student in Hungary: he became a waiter in New York City. People did what they had to do.
I had a student approach me and tell me that after three years of college studying architecture he had decided that he did not want to be an architect. He wanted to go to cooking school and that is exactly what he did. He was quite ordinary as an architecture student but he graduated first in his class from cooking school and started a highly successful catering service in Atlanta. He complained at first that he had wasted his time. I disagreed. Better to find out that he did not want to make a commitment to architecture than to spend years pursuing a career that he did not want.
Third, understand the economic parameters of your prospective job. I spent my career as a professor at two colleges where the focus was on undergraduate teaching. I always purchased my clothing off the rack. I told my wife that if she wanted diamonds and furs she was marrying the wrong fellow. A "new" car was a car that was new to us though someone else had owned it for three or four years. I had a colleague whose wife needed a new Mercedes Benz every five years. Their marriage hit a rough spot one year, when at the end of the five year period, he presented her with a Buick instead of a Mercedes.
Fourth, pick a job where you can give something back. We all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. Though they might be embarrassed I can clearly remember all those who helped me along the way. If I have helped a young academic's career: good! If I have helped students in their studies and career preparation: good!
So while I am still deciding what I want to be when I grow up, if I decide to grow up that is, I hope that these four elements may help epople focus their thinking as they make their way.