Kid Wisdom: What Is Work?

Picture this: you’re talking to a little girl. As quickly as you find out how old she is, you’re likely to ask what she wants to be when she grows up. Before she can even write her name, she’s shipped off to preschool… but not before she’s required to hold a sign (given to her by Mom) saying, “When I grow up, I want to be (fill in the blank).”  

According to Forbes, some of the most common jobs in the U.S. include that of a cashier, server, registered nurse, customer representative, and janitor. This surprised me; those aren’t necessarily the first jobs that come to my mind.

Radio operators, animal breeders, and farm labor contractors are all among the least common jobs, which, funny enough, seem more like the kind of jobs that children might aspire to. “Daddy, I want to be on the radio when I grow up.” Can’t you hear it? Sounds a heck of a lot more likely than “Mommy, I’m going to be a customer service representative.” #SayHuh?

I interviewed 13 children about work—types of jobs, what makes a good day at work, what makes a bad day, and their overall career aspirations. As I expected, the most common American careers weren’t the ones that these kids aspired to be. In fact, one little boy told me he wants to be a farmer, while one of the girls hopes to be a veteranarian who works with animals. Imagine that.

I also quickly learned how observant children can be. When I asked “What’s a good day at work?,” one little girl responded, “When they can get off work early… and he gets free lunch.” Sounds like daddy enjoys a freebie now and then. #QdobaAnyone?

As it turns out, your career options are endless. According to these kids, you could “work for the local news” or be a movie maker, animal doctor, professional sports player, cook, astronaut, scientist, doctor, or cop. Do you often forget why you work, day in and day out (like I do)? The kids told me it’s because people must in order “to pay their health insurance and their house insurance,” but mostly because we’re grown-ups.

When you’re not working, you could always “go shopping,” “hang out with friends and stuff,” or “sit on the couch and rest.” (The latter is suggested.) If you hate your job, kids say you shouldn’t stick around. Instead, you should “probably find a job that [you] enjoy.”

Just remember, no matter what career you chose, how many bad days you’ve had, or how much health insurance you have to pay, in the end, you can be whatever you want to be. Even if you start a career as ‘Anakin Skywalker Dark Side,’ you can always decide to become a lawyer in the end. #MayTheForceBeWithYou

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