Young People Ask . . .
How Can I Prepare for the Working World?
“I FEEL scared and excited at the same time!” So exclaimed 16-year-old Maureen when asked how she felt about some day entering the working world. It is only natural to feel at least a twinge of nervousness when you think about having to enter the job market—even if you are looking forward to the challenge of it. Just before young René left school, he said: “After 12 years of being burdened with school, work will be a pleasure.”
Whatever your feelings are, you will probably hold a job in the work force some day. How can you prepare for that day? Attending school gives you the opportunity to develop good habits, such as punctuality. Furthermore, youths who are still in school might gain experience by working at part-time jobs. However, to prepare well for the working world, it is particularly important that you give serious thought to the courses you choose in school.
A Balanced View of Work
First, you have to determine what you want out of a job. Some youths do not look beyond the size of the paycheck. Granted, “money is for a protection” and is important in life. (Ecclesiastes 7:12) But the Bible is true when it says that “even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15) In the book Yes—I Can!, by Barkai, Barkai, and Yeo, the authors offer this advice: ‘Don’t fall into the trap of looking only for high monetary returns.’ They add: “Job satisfaction is just as important for your future happiness.” Seventeen-year-old Paulo thus showed balance when he said: “I would just like to earn a decent living while enjoying what I’m doing.”
If you are a Christian, however, there are yet other considerations. Even the most enjoyable, challenging line of work will not satisfy your spiritual need. After all, “the whole obligation of man” is to “fear the true God and keep his commandments.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) Since God’s command for Christians is to “make disciples,” many young Witnesses of Jehovah plan for careers as pioneers, or full-time evangelizers. (Matthew 28:19, 20) A South African girl named Shulamite did just that. And she says that it brings her a “lot of satisfaction to assist in filling people’s spiritual need.”
Perhaps you too desire to share in the full-time ministry. Still, you will likely have to work to support yourself. Some day you may even have to support a family. On the other hand, circumstances may not permit you to be a pioneer, and you may have to seek full-time employment. In either event, would you not want to find employment that allowed you as full a share in God’s service as possible? Much will depend on what courses you choose in school.
Choose the Right Subjects
In some lands a youth can choose between academic, business, technical, and vocational education. It is often prudent to consider what types of work are available locally. At the same time, you can evaluate your aptitude and interests. How? By making a list of all the things that you are interested in or that you do well in. Is it mathematics? Computer science? Auto mechanics? Include your hobbies and other casual interests. This would give you at least some idea of what type of work you might be best suited for and what kind of courses might steer you in that direction. Talking with your parents or other mature adults might also help you evaluate your abilities and inclinations realistically.—Compare Proverbs 15:22.
For example, are you a sociable person? Then you would perhaps want to consider subjects that could get you employment in sales or other fields that require close contact with people. On the other hand, if you have a talent for working with your hands, you might want to consider taking a vocational course. At any rate, many full-time evangelizers support themselves with the skills they began to learn in high (secondary) school. Some have found part-time work in construction, appliance repair, carpentry, home crafts, word processing, or secretarial work.
For Damaris, a young woman from Colombia, South America, taking up typing and bookkeeping paid off. She obtained a half-day secretarial job that supported her evangelizing career. Some Christians have met their needs by janitorial work, landscaping, and so forth.
When Options Are Few
Not all schools, however, offer adequate job training; some even fail to teach their students basic reading and writing skills. In certain areas additional education may be necessary to obtain almost any form of employment. Under such circumstances, you might find out if there are any on-the-job-training or apprenticeship programs available locally. A short-term school course that teaches a marketable job skill is another option. Interestingly, some have undertaken such training in addition to their work as full-time evangelizers.
Youths in developing countries may find that subject choices and school options are extremely limited. Katiti, a young man from a rural town in southern Africa, had no choice but to take Latin, mathematics, and physical science, even though such subjects were of limited value in the local job market. Nevertheless, Katiti succeeded in finding employment. How? By adapting his skills to local needs. When Katiti left school, he supported himself by growing and selling vegetables, knitting and selling woolen scarves and caps, and even distributing patent medicines in the rural areas. Because school had equipped him with the necessary communication skills, he could effectively handle this interesting variety of occupations.
The book Choosing Your Career and Your Higher Education says that the ability “to communicate, to understand and to be understood is vastly important” in the work place. Most fields, whether technical, commercial, or academic, require communication skills. So even if your school does not offer specific job training, work hard at becoming skilled in writing, speaking, and listening. The impression you make on a prospective employer will depend to a large extent on your ability to communicate; it may very well be the deciding factor in getting the job you want. Among Jehovah’s Witnesses, many youths have sharpened their communication skills by participating in the Theocratic Ministry School in the Christian congregation.
The book Your Child at School notes: “We are not all built the same way.” Some youths are mechanically inclined, while others are gifted academically. Yet others are endowed with talents and abilities in the field of music, art, or athletics. Supporting oneself as a commercial artist or a music instructor is one thing, but pursuing wealth or fame in such fields can pose spiritual dangers for a Christian. In addition, since these careers might leave you limited time for Christian activities, such as attending meetings and sharing in the preaching work, would it be wise to spend years gaining the education and perfecting the skills necessary to succeed in them?—1 Corinthians 7:29.
A young Witness named Philip tried to pursue a promising tennis career. “Eventually,” confesses Philip, “I had to choose between Christianity and tennis. There was just not enough time to give myself entirely to both pursuits. I decided to give up tennis, and although it was difficult at the time, I have never regretted it.”
The apostle Paul made a similar decision. Though schooled in law, he chose to pursue the Christian ministry, supporting himself by the trade of tent making. (Acts 18:3; 22:3) But Paul did not regret his choice. He said: “What things were gains to me, these I have considered loss on account of the Christ. . . . I have taken the loss of all things and I consider them as a lot of refuse, that I may gain Christ.”—Philippians 3:7, 8.
Perhaps you will be moved to make similar choices. Rather than developing your academic, musical, or artistic skills, you may decide to cultivate your spiritual abilities. This may mean learning a trade or some line of work viewed as unglamorous by most people. At times a youth may learn a trade by working along with his parents, perhaps learning to do carpentry, plumbing, or some other such trade.
Whatever you decide in this regard, give thought to your future. Choose your subjects wisely, carefully. With God’s help, you will be fully prepared for the working world!
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Many support themselves with the skills learned in school