A few months back, some acquaintances of mine, Bill and Jean, a young married couple still in their teens, went to their bishop to seek help. They were being evicted from their apartment because they had failed to pay their rent. Their first child was to be born within two months. They had no food. Bill had not worked for three months after being laid off from his job as a filling station attendant. Because he lacked technical training he had been unable to secure employment.
It was obvious that Bill and Jean were unprepared for marriage and its accompanying responsibilities. They had failed to plan ahead. The pattern of their life is typical of many young people today who start dating early. Early dating often leads to steady dating, early marriage, dropping out of school, pregnancy, and, all too often, divorce with its inevitable damage to the children as well as to the husband and wife.
What is going to happen to you if you fail to adequately prepare for the challenges of our increasingly technical world? Statistics published by the U.S. Department of Labor indicate that if you fail to prepare, your life will be plagued with long periods of unemployment and heartbreak while good jobs go begging for qualified workers. Also, those without adequate training are often unhappy with their jobs—they receive little satisfaction from the work that they do, often dread going to work, and may spend eight hours a day for forty-five years doing something they dislike.
You are more likely to be content in your life’s work if you start making plans early and carefully consider your ambitions, goals, and personal preferences. Careers don’t just happen. They’re made as you decide on such things as schooling, training, interests; likes, and dislikes. If you just drift into a job, you’ll probably become discontented with it later on and wish you could make a fresh start.
As a youth in 1972, you are surrounded by a vast array of possibilities and opportunities. Limits are set only by your own imagination, creativity, and abilities. You can’t start too early to give this some thought. You may wish to follow the example of other Latter-day-Saint youth around the world who are becoming involved in special educational or training programs that help them to develop skills so that they will be able to get a job.
For example, Spencer McMullin, a college student from Raymond, Alberta, Canada, has set up his own business of cleaning carpets in apartment buildings. He has been able to earn sufficient money to pay for his schooling expenses. Spencer says, “There are always jobs around if you are willing to spend a little time and use a little imagination in looking for them. I Started my own company after working for a friend and learning the business from him. I found it exciting to learn a trade and earn money at the same time. I like to check in the classified ads of popular magazines because many of these contain sections on job opportunities.
Eighteen-year-old Kim Lesher took a business training course while she attended high school. During her senior year she worked part-time at a bank. As a result, she was able to get a full-time job after graduating. Kim says, “I’m happy that I took business classes during high school because I now have marketable skills. Sometimes I didn’t really like taking shorthand and type, but they are a tremendous investment because they are the skills that got me my job. My bank president will hire only people who are trained.”
Rick Boggess of Richfield, Utah, has used his part-time job as a stepping stone to his chosen field. Rick worked part-time as a dishwasher in a restaurant, advanced to a cook, and, after a mission, is now working as a cook to help cover his educational expenses. According to Rick, “Counselors can be a big help in aiding you to take an honest look at yourself and in helping you to decide what you really want to do.” He plans to become a restaurant manager and owner.
Eighteen-year-old Randy Jasper has turned a hobby into a profitable business. Randy has always had an interest in working with wood and building things. In his wood shop class in high school he learned how to make furniture. With the help of a friend he made a bedroom set and other wooden furniture and sold them to a furniture dealer. Randy says, “It’s important to do something in high school instead of just sliding by. My wood shop class helped me to develop skills so that now I can work as a carpenter before going on a mission. After my mission I plan to return and work as a carpenter while attending school.”
Every reader of this article is a unique person. There is no one exactly like you in the world, so the career that you select is a personal matter. You should listen to your parents, teachers, Church leaders, and friends. But it is up to you to decide just exactly what career you will follow. You’ll need to decide on what’s really important to you. To work just for the joy of receiving a large paycheck is not enough. As you grow older, you will realize that happiness also depends on the personal satisfaction that comes from doing a job well, from helping others, or from doing something interesting and challenging. You may desire intellectual stimulation, you may want to serve others without giving much thought to financial return, or you may want to work in a field where you will be able to express yourself.
You’ll also need to consider such factors as how a certain career will affect your family life. Will you have your evenings free to spend with your family? Your occupation will also affect your Church life. Many careers require that a person be away from home on Sundays, making it very difficult to be active in Church assignments. You need to evaluate that problem. Your occupation also influences the type of home you live in, as well as the friends you have. It may also have an influence on the person you decide to marry.
Since whatever occupation you choose will have such a decided effect on your life, it will be to your advantage to explore some of the thousands of choices available. The best time to study an occupation is before you make major decisions about school, military, marriage, and so forth. If you wait until you are in a circumstance like Bill and Jean who were mentioned in the beginning of the article, it may be too late or, at least, extremely difficult.
To help you in making your plans, the Church Welfare Department is implementing the Gospel of Work for Youth Program. Watch for the various phases of the program that will be coming up in your ward, stake, mission, and district. The program will help you to become aware of what you should be doing to make your life-work decision.
If you have suggestions, questions, or ideas on educational or career planning or part-time jobs, write to: Educational and Career Advisement Center, A-152 ASB, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, U.S.A. 84601.
Throughout the Church the following program of activities should now be underway:
1. Where From Here? Career Seminar—a discussion group on your ward/branch or stake/district level to help you map out some of your career ideas.
2. How to Get a Job Clinic—ideas on how to find, get, and keep a job, with special emphasis on vacation employment, will be the subject of a second session scheduled for April.