This woman should be 26, not 29. But I could never tell her otherwise | Jess Mills

A woman looks to seek a career ‘outside the box’ when she’s 27 years old. She’s burning with the passion for creativity, but wants to start out on her own. She’s struggling to pay…

This woman should be 26, not 29. But I could never tell her otherwise | Jess Mills

A woman looks to seek a career ‘outside the box’ when she’s 27 years old. She’s burning with the passion for creativity, but wants to start out on her own. She’s struggling to pay off her student loans, since her educational career wasn’t quite enough. Then a lump sum presents itself, allowing her to start earning full salary from day one. This 29-year-old needs help with the rest, so she can go and pursue her dream.

Readers may ask: why must this woman be young, if she wants to do what she loves?

The blunt truth is: she can’t, because she’s under age. She’s just 29 years old.

Asking someone to do what they love is, to an extent, like asking someone to like something they do not enjoy. There’s more to life than liking it. On the other hand, she is very enthusiastic about working in customer service. According to job search site CareerBuilder, there are 742,400 customer service jobs. Experienced customer service professionals earn about $52,100 a year.

Should she take her $10,000 lump sum and use it to graduate from graduate school? Should she stop working and wait for her husband’s salary to increase? Should she pursue other avenues to make more money? Is it the “set-it-and-forget-it” route she’s looking for?

If so, can anyone even tell us what career path she should pursue? There are no guides for this, no figures on what does well and what doesn’t, just limited knowledge of potential jobs.

Simply asking someone to choose their dream job before they begin their profession – let alone for nine years – can be telling on their effort level. You may be able to predict a job with a few months of data (though it’s easy to fall prey to “my first job paid a ton of money” hype). You can’t predict one that lasts three or five decades.

The problem isn’t that young people aren’t capable of choosing a career they love. It’s that our education system fails to be “outside the box” and narrows us down to think all jobs are the same. It’s that we build our expectations too much around one specific job.

Our educational culture is a never-ending jumble of open questions, ambiguous answers and little real thought. This is why we haven’t actually improved since the previous 100 years.

Student loan debt is a key reason many who should go out and get that career feel trapped. It’s expensive to graduate: tuition and living are eye-watering, not to mention the paychecks. When we have piles of debt and question our ability to move forward, many young people feel stifled.

I can’t tell you whether 29-year-olds are capable of choosing their dream job or whether they should begin their careers earlier. It’s much more important to understand why we don’t have much research on this, and what we can do about it.

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