What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Robyn Tellefsen | April 12, 2012

One of my kids’ favorite storybook characters is Lilly, the heroine of such clever tales as “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” by Kevin Henkes. Amid all her antics, we learn that Lilly, a spirited young mouse, wants to be a teacher when she grows up – but only on the days when she doesn’t want to be a dancer, surgeon, ambulance driver, diva, pilot, hairdresser, or scuba diver.

Today, on Look Up at the Sky Day (I kid you not!), Lilly’s shoot-for-the-stars aspirations remind me of all the fun things people dream about becoming before they get old and crotchety. From princesses and superheroes to ballerinas and professional baseball players, kids let their imaginations run wild when answering the question of what they want to be when they grow up.

These days, my kindergartner says she wants to be an astronaut and an artist. (Or maybe she’ll be a writer like her mama – she’s already got the alliteration down pat!) I don’t think she quite understands what these careers entail, but she loves her science and art classes in school, and she’s always drawing and coloring. The earnings potential for artsy types isn’t so bad – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2011, artists earned a median annual salary of $58,040. And according to NASA, an astronaut can earn anywhere from $64,724 to $141,715 a year, depending on academic achievements and experience. The salary differential speaks for itself, but I think I’ll leave my daughter’s career decisions up to her. She’s only 6, after all.

My second grader is dead set on becoming a meteorologist. He watches The Weather Channel, clips weather forecasts out of newspapers, and reads books about weather phenomena religiously. He also likes to invent his own forecasts for all different parts of the world, and abbreviations like “precip,” “temp,” and “t-storm” are sprinkled throughout his everyday conversations. This may seem like strange behavior for a soon-to-be 8-year-old, but I think he’s on track to a career as a future Bill Evans (my son’s favorite weatherman). He already knows he’ll have to take lots of science and math classes in high school and college. What he doesn’t know is that the salary forecast is pretty good – in 2011, meteorologists pulled in an annual salary of about $89,790, reports the BLS.

As for my own childhood dreams, actress and singer were pretty high on the list, and ballerina, doctor, and lawyer were in there at some point, too. I didn’t recognize my penchant for writing until college and beyond, though I should have – I used to write pretend newspaper articles in my backyard, and I’ve got stacks of personal journals revealing a lifetime of small moments.

So I will encourage my kids to follow their dreams, but I will also tell them that we don’t always end up living out our childhood fantasies. Sometimes we do something even better.

–Robyn Tellefsen

The Life Cycle of a Nursing Career

Lori Johnston | March 1, 2012

One of the most popular fitness instructors at my gym is a mom in her 40s who is graduating from nursing school this year. She’s a former teacher who is excited about the opportunities to work in health care, focused on being an oncology nurse.

Another friend of mine is a recent college graduate in her 20s who is pursuing her next step in her education — getting into nursing school — with hopes to be a pediatric nurse.

Both are joining females and males across the country who are seeking to fill the huge need for nurses nationwide. Being a nurse is the largest health care job, with 2.6 million registered nurses nationwide.

The government projected a 22 percent growth in registered nurse jobs from 2008-2018 (or 581,500 new jobs), and depending on where you live, the opportunities are great, in physicians’ offices, hospitals, nursing care facilities, and home health care services.

You will find three typical paths to becoming a registered nurse:

• Diploma: Typically three-year programs in hospital settings. There are only a few of these programs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

• Associate degree in nursing (ADN): Typically two- to three-year programs offered by junior and community colleges.

• Bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN): Typically four-year programs offered by colleges and universities.

Before pursuing your nursing degree, you’ll want to think about your career path. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that advancement opportunities may be greater for registered nurses who earn a BSN, than a diploma or associate degree.

But nurses who hold an associate’s degree or diploma can go into bachelor’s degree programs later, too (and your employer could reimburse your tuition).

Another option is to earn your accelerated master’s degree in nursing (MSN), which you can earn a bachelor’s and master’s at the same time, typically in three to four years. If you’re coming from another career field, you may be able to earn your accelerated BSN, which last 12 to 18 months.

Through the classes and tests, externships, and other program requirements, I see in my friends their passion to care for patients and assist people, in times of trauma to prevent illness. The job opportunities in nursing often make headlines, and it takes that passion, and a commitment to earning your degree to have a vigorous career as a nurse.

Pinterest Can Inspire Education and Careers

Lori Johnston | January 17, 2012

Pinterest isn’t just an awesome social media place for craft ideas, fashion, makeup and hair tips, recipes, birthday party themes, and home design ideas (they’re fueling my dream of having a custom master bedroom closet). If you’re on Pinterest, and if you can tear yourself away from repining those things to your boards, you’ll notice that one of the categories on Pinterest is education.

A lot of the items posted on the education boards are related to children, but some are more adult-friendly and could encourage you to go back to college or pursue a new degree.

Also, if you’re a “pinaholic,” think about how much time you spend browsing other boards, such as photography, hair and beauty, fitness, science and nature, technology, and history. Your passion for one of those subjects may be clear, and it could lead you to start researching career paths in those areas that have captured your interest for a long time.

Here are some of the latest things we’ve seen pinned that can inform you about potential new careers or degrees or inspire you as an adult learner. Our links take you to the actual webpage, so that those who don’t have Pinterest accounts can see them, too.

The Bachelor’s Job Market
A social media professor (sounds like a cool job) at Syracuse University posted this insightful infographic, created by Rasmussen College, that shows the need for more bachelor’s degree holders and reasons why people don’t pursue their degree.

I’m So Much More Than Just a Teacher poster
If you’re considering going into education, whether to work as a teacher’s assistant at your child’s school or to teach in another grade level, this poster’s message may be the push that you need to head into that direction.

Albert Einstein Quotes
The inspirational sayings on Pinterest range from sassy to sappy, but if you sort through, you can find some that may be worth putting your computer, phone, or near study central for you. The ones by Albert Einstein often pop up, joining others by authors, book characters, and even created by Pinterest members themselves.

Oh, and don’t forget to check us out on Pinterest. Our Boards are a mixture of smart (College-related Infographics and A+ College Stuff) and fun (Because Bacon Makes You Smarter).

Are you on Pinterest? Tell us what you’ve learned so far. Happy pinning!

-Lori Johnston

Which college degrees provide better job security?

A new study from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce implies that your degree choice can have a big impact on keeping a job. According to the findings, risk of unemployment for recent graduates varies considerably depending on their major.

You can check out the full report, Hard Times, College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal, but here are some of the takeaways we’ve gleaned from it:

– Specializing is great, but develop skills that can be applicable in a number of ways. Case in point: The highest unemployment rate in the study was for architecture graduates (13.9 percent), a direct reflection of the struggling real estate market, and there’s little work outside of that industry. On the other hand, those with financial or computer expertise can transfer those skills to work for most any corporation or organization.

– Now might be a good time to get that advanced degree you’ve been mulling over. The overall unemployment rate for people with graduate degrees is just 3 percent.

– Look for ties to strong industries. Recent graduates in Engineering, the Sciences, Education, or Healthcare are tied to stable or growing sectors, and therefore, offer opportunities with the most staying power (with just a 5.4% unemployment rate).

On the bright side, any degree is still better than not having one at all. Recent bachelor’s degree earners have an 8.9 percent unemployment rate, while job seekers with just a high school diploma are at 22.9 percent, and high school dropouts are at 31.5 percent.

-Dawn Papandrea