Your future is not always what you expect

Henry

By Zandeleen Thygesen

I am not where I expected to be at 18.

At 18, I made decisions about my career and life, with the idea that success follows a simple recipe: study, work, get married, and have children. Now, at 28, I am not working in the field I studied for, am unmarried, and my “children” are two dogs.

Am I unsuccessful? Definitely not! The reality is that everyone’s picture looks different and the idea that one grows up with is not the reality that was created for us. We are expected to know at the young age of 18 what we want to do as a profession for the rest of our lives.

The choice often has the expectation that it will have a direct path to a successful career. However, there is no guarantee that an individual will get a job in the field they are studying. While certain professions require a specific degree or training, which offers a more direct path to employment opportunities, there are also other factors that play a role.

The labor market is a dynamic and unpredictable space, and there is often a gap between academic training and work. I did learn that your education provides a background that helps in the workplace. I suspect 90% of those who studied with me do not work anywhere near in the direction outlined by that course.

The reality is that we have to work harder to get somewhere and make a success of the field in which we end up. I think one of the big challenges young people face in the modern labor market is an increase in the requirement for experience when you apply for a job. Even if an individual has a degree in a specific field, it can be difficult to get a job without practical experience.

This situation has always made me wonder: how can a person gain experience if they don’t have the opportunity to work? It is almost impossible to have two years of experience for an entry-level position, but it is still a requirement.

I am of the opinion that personal interests and passions must be taken into account when choosing a career path. Apart from that, it is important to know what your strengths are and what will give you energy to tackle each day.

I’m not saying it’s bad to study, but be aware of the fact that you might not get a job in that field. See your studies as a foundation on which you can build to one day get where you want to be. Do what you love and enjoy your life while you can, with what you have, because every year is just another year away from being young.

  • Zandeleen Thygesen is a data coordinator and food enthusiast who studied zoology and microbiology. Her love for food has led to the publication of a few recipes in magazines and she enjoys discovering new cooking techniques and ingredients.

#JongStemme is a project by RNews and Solidarity’s student offer that wants to emphasize the youth’s voice in the public domain. Visit www.solidariteit.co.za for help and advice with your career.

If you are between 18 and 26 years old and want to write an opinion piece, send an email to (email protected) and we are happy to contact you.