I always envied the kids who had a clear-cut idea of what they wanted to be when they grew up. My high school graduating class has numerous lawyers, a few doctors, business men and other varied careers. The closest I ever came to knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up was a veterinarian.
And mostly, that was because of this:
I LOVED James Herriot. I wanted to BE James Herriot - even with his arm disappearing inside a cow. I thought this was my path in life and even spent a summer working at a vet's office caring for animals, cleaning cages, holding them and even watching surgery. I think it was the smell of blood during surgery that made me realize that being a vet was not for me. It didn't make me sick, but it was unpleasant enough that I didn't want to be around it every day.
All of this left me at a loss. A few years went by while I tried on different ideas and discarded them all. My actual "career" was an accident.
Being in the "gifted" program at school, I did a lot of different things, but when I was in high school they decided to try an "Executive Internship" program, where the student would leave school for 6 months and try out a career for school credit. The other people got spots in the Governor's office, the Forestry division, at the newspaper... and I couldn't figure out what to do. On the last day before I had to forfeit my spot, my dad called the general manager at the public television station and asked if he could use a free employee for a while. When he said yes, Dad told me to jump on it and make that my internship. I did.
As it turned out, I loved doing it. Not just running a camera or floor directing or running the audio board, editing or doing graphics... I loved that I worked in public television. I did that internship and when I graduated from school in January, they hired me in February. I continued working there until I got married, then moved to Oklahoma where I did that for a while at a commercial station. I added film-editing and paid voice-work to my resume there, but it wasn't public television.
I worked for the FAA for 5 years at their Air Traffic Control Training Academy as a word processor. I briefly contemplated becoming an accident investigator, but my then-husband was dead set against it. He was pretty much against anything I wanted to do, so eventually I left and came back to where I grew up and got a job in television production again, doing local news and commercials for the CBS affiliate because that's who was hiring. When I heard of a spot opening up at the public TV station though, I went and applied. A friend from long ago was doing the hiring and when he asked me if I could do Traffic, I said yes. Then I asked what that was. Luckily, he knew me well and knew that if I said I could do it, I could. I've been doing this for 23 years now. I still enjoy it and I still love working for PBS. I don't make a lot of money doing this, and I'm not changing the world with my career, but I like to thing that being a cog in the machine that brings you PBS programming, I'm doing my part to make the world a better place.