This is the time of year when young people and their parents are anticipating and planning for graduation. Most colleges have already had their ceremonies and high schools throughout Michigan are gearing up for the same. High school seniors around Livingston County are counting the days until they are “done.” This is what they have been looking forward to since first entering the school doors four years ago.
As the diplomas are passed out, the time begins to start on the path toward a career. Whether it is starting toward a degree or vocational program, or accepting that first job, the career journey begins.
I get to have conversations with many students in my line of work. Some have a clear plan mapped out for their future and some have no idea what they want to do. I have talked to both sides of the spectrum. I see confidence and uncertainty to begin the journey, mixed with apprehension and excitement. There is a lot of pressure on these young people to have it all figured out.
If I have discovered anything from my own life experiences and being the mom of three boys who have taken very nontraditional career paths, the important thing is to keep moving forward. It is just as important to recognize that you cannot always script your way.
My husband and I could have never predicted we would live and work in three other states after college before moving back to Michigan. Nor would my husband have ever thought he would have to dress up as the Pink Panther at a lumber yard in his first job out of college. Surprisingly for me, I ended up living in Florida, but not as the marine biologist I had always wanted to become. You see, at the time of my high school senior year I was too afraid to leave the comfort of my home state to pursue this dream.
You never know what opportunities or serendipity moments may come your way. Both of our careers took twists, turns and unexpected detours we could not have imagined.
I was invited to dinner this past weekend to celebrate my niece’s graduation from my Alma mater, Michigan State. The fact that the table was set with green and white was only one reason to smile. The excitement and anticipation of what life holds for her, as she recently accepted her first job, was infectious. She is on her way.
It is interesting that around the table sat my brother-in-law, who is still with the company he was hired by out of college; my sister, who worked in advertising for many years before becoming a stay-at-home mom and now writes a blog; my husband, who switched from corporate America to running a company that allows him the flexibility to watch our son play college hockey out east; and myself, who has three degrees and has found a job that fits with a passion for work some too, are lucky to find. There are people who know me, who still ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
One of my favorite things is watching the young people I know become who they are. This usually starts as soon as they leave high school and then gets shaped and molded as they navigate their own path. Congratulations to the graduates of 2015. Enjoy the journey!
Kris Nelson works as a school social worker and prevention specialist in Livingston County. You can reach her at Key Development Center by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.