The Bunny Whisperer
Kids have 21 years (more or less) to figure out what job they want to do when they graduate college. If you are like me and think that they should try to clarify that before choosing a college (since it is going to cost them more than the value of your house to attend for 4 years), they are now down to 17 years. Assuming that any real discussion about what work means is not going to happen until they are almost in high school they have a grand total of 5 years to narrow down the almost infinite possibilities. We should also keep in mind that in those 5 years when our kids are trying to figure out what job is right for them, they have ZERO work experience and know almost nothing about what different jobs are like. If only there were an experienced, older person in their life. Someone who has been watching over them the whole 21 years and knows their strengths and weaknesses. Someone who has 30 or 40 years of adult experience in the workplace. Someone who could advise these young men and women on what "might" be a good career choice... Wait a minute! That would be us, their parents!
"I want to let them find their own way" is a nice sentiment but not practical unless our kids are independently wealthy. You can read more about "Choices" in my No Choices for Kids! article.
So what career would you advise for the young man described in the beginning of this article? A job that requires patience, sensitivity, a love of animals. Rabbit Rancher, Kindergarten Teacher, Veterinarian? Since the average salary for a Vet is about $84,000 and a Kindergarten Teacher is $37,000 (not sure about Rancher) I am going to push for the Veterinarian. A small note here, if the young man says, "No, Dad, I don't want to be a Vet, I want to be a Teacher." that is great. As long as he has a direction.
Back to the Veterinarian. My curiosity peaked, I did some research on what it takes to become a Vet and what he can do now. The first activity meets 2 needs. Volunteering at a veterinary clinic or animal shelter. It gives the child a chance to find out if they really like working with animals all the time and the experience will be valuable on their college application for vet school. Next, science (particularly biology) is important so getting good grades in this subject and keeping up with the curriculum will make the undergraduate degree easier.
According to a few sites I found, there are a limited number of graduate veterinary schools (28). This makes for very competitive admissions. Standing out with good grades, letters of recommendation, and specific, focused internships and volunteer activities both in HS and college will make a difference. Finally, recognize the commitment it will take. A vet needs a 4 year undergraduate degree, followed by a 4 year graduate degree (Doctor), then you have to pass the licensing exams for both national and state and often start with an internship after all that before getting full time work.
Now I just need to find a place where he can volunteer with animals over the summer!