LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
While recently speaking to a large group of teens about how to land a job in the 20th century, I realized that few were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about the notion of a full-time career. The U.S. job market’s current tortoise climb upwards could definitely be a prime indicator of why the next generation lacks adequate zeal about their unpredictable future.
When I was a teenager myself, I was told I could be anything that I wanted to be, and boy, was I a dreamer. At the time, I wanted to be a zoologist, naming new animal species and tagging rare birds to monitor their migration patterns. By the time I was a junior in high school, I could name every tree, reptile, amphibian, bird, rock and soil type in Kentucky. Goodness, I even rubbed elbows with the acclaimed Jane Goodall, a primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist and a UN Messenger of Peace.
Fast forward a couple years — the moment I walked single-file to shake the principal’s hand in a long ridiculous robe as a single tassel danced around the left side of my hat — I changed my mind. I honestly did not know what I wanted to study, and I was told by my father that I better end up working somewhere where I can support myself.
I soon began my college career and became keenly interested in writing, graphic design, photography and video production. I didn’t see that one coming, nor did I expect that I could do all of the above well, or even win awards for it. But no matter my interests, it was as if I was knowledgeable in all things that are difficult to land a job in or provide ample support.
During my speech to the group of uninterested teens, I tried to emphasize having your heart invested in your work. Having a “fire in the belly” is needed, no matter the job field or market. I think that’s a necessity so many adults forget about when they drown in a sea of their everyday to-do lists on the job. Everyone needs to be reminded of their passion, why they started their career in the first place, and even re-visit the notion of never ceasing to look onward so that you don’t lose soul.
Four other business professionals shared their stories of prosperity and failure alongside me that day, all of whom I believed learned a little something about themselves that they’d never really said aloud before, as well as learned something about their timid audience. I myself learned that perhaps I dwell too much on the here and now and fail to take into consideration when I’m carrying a load in my life that I was never intended to carry. I hope the student’s biggest takeaway from my speech was not that I work five days a week, weekends and random hours of the day chasing wrecks or fires, but that I have a passion for everything I do — because I’ve put my heart into it.
Although the job market is not moving upward as rapid as a hare in a race, there is still opportunity for hope, possibilities and zeal. No matter what the future holds, there’s always a positive outlook for those brave souls who dare to dream big.