The Crusader Newspaper Group


The world has changed during the past several decades, and the impact of this change can be seen clearly in society. Once upon a time young people had a choice of a number of interesting occupations. Some of them required higher education, but many didn’t. Today, the job market is changing in ways that were not anticipated years ago.

African American youth, in particular, need to prepare for their economic future as early as possible. Interestingly, today many people don’t stick with one vocation; they may switch careers several times before retiring from a field they had not planned to enter when they were younger.

The challenge is that people don’t always get an opportunity to sample the work environment that would be suitable for them. Certain careers look glamorous from the outside, but once an individual is engaged in the field, they discover nuances that had not been thought about.

For instance, there is the case of the young woman who wanted a career in the medical field. She wanted to become a phlebotomy technician. (A phlebotomist is a person who is responsible for drawing blood from patients). The young woman enrolled in a phlebotomy technician program and successfully completed it, only to discover she couldn’t stand the sight of blood! This was an unexpected development that was revealed to her at the point where she needed to acquire employment.

Career research, therefore, is imperative if you want to avoid the situation just described.

Had the young woman known what the job entailed before investing time, money and energy, she might have avoided the mistake of selecting an occupation for which she was basically unsuited.

Fortunately, there was a happy ending. She later went on to become employed as a sheriff’s deputy, a job in which she excelled and retired as a sergeant after many years on the job.

When shopping for a career (or a job), salary size is just one of the things that must be considered. A lot of young people say they want to become medical doctors. That is a good field to consider, but it must be remembered that it will require more education and preparation than something else less challenging. Moreover, this career should be avoided if the only motivation is status enhancement.

Again, young people say they want to become lawyers. That career, too, requires significant education and preparation. Others say they want to enter the business field. That too is admirable but again, the preparation required to become a successful businessman or owner must be considered. For instance, if a person doesn’t enjoy working with people, they’d probably want to avoid a business career where personality, charisma and optimism are important assets.

Career advice is important for everyone who plans to enter the workforce, but is especially so for young Black people. Too many of them believe they are going to excel as sports and entertainment personalities. They want to become actors, football or basketball players, rappers, dancers, comedians, etc. These careers are important and wealth-generating, but there are only so many openings available.

Of course, NO ONE should be discouraged from trying to acquire their dream job, but it must be emphasized that they do research to determine what is actually required of a particular career, and then decide whether or not it suits them.

When advising young people regarding prospective career paths, or even researching for yourself, there are a few things that must be kept in mind:

Is the salary adequate with room to grow? Can you tolerate the minutiae that comes with the job? Is it something you could do up to retirement age? Is a solid pension upon retirement a possibility? Can I work from home? Will future technology make the job obsolete?

These questions and many others should be considered when shopping for careers (or jobs). And remember, everyone can’t play ball like LeBron James or sing like Whitney Houston. Make realistic plans, with a boatload of optimism. A Luta Continua.

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