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Native American managerWORK in EARLY ADULTHOOD

Development of a work identity

As you learned in an earlier chapter, most adolescents don't know much about the work place. Unlike earlier generations when young people commonly learned careers by working along with a parent or other adult, we now segregate young people in schools with others of their age. Consequently, they emerge from high school with an idea of what teachers do, what school administrators and janitors do, and very little else.

One area in which all of us could serve our young people better is to spend more time discussing with them what exactly it is we do all day. It is somewhat embarrassing to admit, but even after I had been a business major for a couple of years, I was still not clear what business people did other than those who were in accounting or finance. When I was asked to speak to my daughter's psychology class, I spent most of the time discussing what various types of psychologists do. I don't mean the definition of the different areas, such as sport psychology or developmental psychology, which you read in any introductory psychology textbook. Rather, I talked about what a person would do in an average day, how much the salary would be, what training a person would need, and how difficult or easy it would be to get a job. In my experience, even youth who are normally disinterested in anything related to school show a lot of interest in this sort of information because it speaks to their concerns. Work is much more than a means of making money. It provides an opportunity for social interaction. Even if you are pretty shy or just obnoxious, other people will interact with you during the day at work, if only because they need to talk to someone in your position. Work builds self-esteem. It lets you know that what you do, and your skills, are valuable. Someone is willing to pay you. It provides structure to your day. You have a reason to get up in the morning and somewhere to go.

The most important factor in how "good" of a career one gets in terms of  such measures as income, prestige and security is how much education a person gets. Of course, being from a wealthy family and getting good grades help. However, these factors help mostly by enabling you to finish more years of schooling.
Dr. De MarsThe ability to delay gratification is important in occupational attainment. I think this is a very important point, which the texbook author kind of tacks on at the end of the chapter. If you choose more immediate gratification, then you are likely to go to a party instead of study for an exam. You are more likely to take a better paying job now, rather than work nights and go to school for a degree. When I think about this, it explains to me why many of my friends are working at low-paying, unpleasant jobs today. I remember when I was in college and working the second shift waitressing to get through school. They would ask why I worked so hard, and shake their heads at me when I said I could not go to some party or go camping because I had to study. The interesting point about this to me was that some of my friends had a hard time understanding that I really would like to go, because, from their point of view, if they wanted to do something, they did it.

WORK LINKS I LIKED  (HINT: Check these out before doing the next assignment).

First jobs article. I liked this for two reasons in particular. One, the sentence "Most entry-level jobs suck" and the statistic they gave that 11.6% of college graduates stay on their first job less than one year.

Finding jobs for Native Americans in the Twin Cities. This article is the exact opposite of the one above, which talks about first jobs for college graduates who have to choose among offers for the one with the best future.

Youth unemployment report from the United Nations. I was interested to find that this analysis finds many of the same problems worldwide as those that concerns us in the U.S. , that is, that too many young people cannot find a decent-paying job or, in fact, any job at all.

Back to the page on love in early adulthood


Skip the next assignment and go on to the next page on middle adulthood (not recommended)

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