When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did some of those aspirations come true? When you left high school did your dream get modified in some way? Maybe your parents couldn’t afford college and you had to go directly into the workforce or earn some money before enrollment or during your studies.

Perhaps once you arrived on campus you found something totally different from what you had planned and pursued that instead. Lots of students start college with undecided majors.

By the time I graduated from Portville, I already had plans to head to Michigan State University but not to study; it was to accompany my husband who would be transferring there from SUNY Alfred. My first job would be working for chemistry professors on campus.

Much as he wanted me with him, Gordy did ask if I was sure I didn’t want to go to college for a while. He was relieved when I said no, I’d made my decision. I was coming with him. This was still a time when the majority of the job goals for women included becoming a teacher, nurse or secretary. I had been trained in office skills throughout high school.

SOME CLASSMATES went on to college and several found careers that opened to them along the way. I’m looking forward to hearing more about those trajectories at our 50th class reunion next month. For me, living with Gordy on a Big-Ten campus and being employed there as well still gave me the campus experience.

Our daughter was seven when the desire to go to college myself surfaced. I had discovered writing and it made sense to study journalism. I opted for Lansing Community College. It would be a few years before I would work full time for a newspaper, my dream job. Any job that allowed me to write for a living would have been a dream job.

I worry about career opportunities for young people today. It seems every area has its issues and even jobs that have always been there — retail, sales, restaurants — are disappearing. Teens or young college students have a hard time finding a job because you can no longer just go to the mall and clerk at a store since many are gone or downsizing because of online shopping.

I never thought I’d be concerned about a car salesman’s job but if the TV ads are true, today you can purchase a vehicle with a few clicks of your phone or tablet and even have it delivered, eliminating the middle man. We have seen the sudden exit of restaurants in our region with wait staff jobs increasingly scarce. This concerns me.

WHEN I WAS in Michigan a couple weeks ago, my friend and former editor brought a young lady to have lunch with us. She was the valedictorian of Adrian College with a degree in psychology and communications. She professed she was from a low-income family and would never have been able to afford it but studied hard and obtained a full-ride scholarship.

Her next goal is fall enrollment at a prestigious journalism school in Maryland near Washington, DC to pursue a master’s degree, tuition fully paid. I can’t recall the name of the school, but she told me she only applied at the best. She is aware that jobs in journalism are harder to come by than in the past and those that do exist are changing with more emphasis on new media. I gave her just one piece of advice: “Stay objective as much as you can and keep your heart.”

As a journalist I know that everyone has bias, even reporters. We all have opinions and innate ways we view the world. The key in journalism, I believe, is to respect, listen and share all viewpoints. We can deduce that there is a lot of bias in today’s media from what we are exposed to, but I believe the smaller news outlets that still survive, such as our own local newspaper, try to be fair and unbiased. As with other career fields, however, they are doing it on tight budgets with fewer staff members.

I SAW A SURVEY where adolescents were asked what profession or job they’d like to job shadow. Despite the health care changes on the horizon that could make it more difficult to earn as a physician, some still want to be doctors, physical therapists and other medical professionals. The fact many have law degrees doesn’t dissuade students from aspiring to be lawyers.

Some of the tech careers aren’t on the high they once were, but community colleges are helping to find workers for a revived manufacturing sector and areas where people are always needed, such as auto mechanics and plumbing.

I guess the careers will evolve with new opportunities opening just as they did when I was younger. At least I hope so. I’m sending up a prayer for all the graduates that they will find their niche as they pursue their dreams.

(Contact contributor Deb Wuethrich at deborahmarcein@gmail.com.)

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