Childhood fascinations turned into adult careers

You often see in biographies about how something someone did in their childhood ended up being relevant to the career of the subject.

The teacher who used to “play classroom” with her dolls.
The actor who put on plays for mom & dad.
The electrical engineer who took apart every one of his dad’s radios.
The veterinarian who cared for strays.
The world-class skiier who started skiing at age 3 (sort of a different class of “fascinations turned career”, but still counts)

Anyway, I often think some of these stories sound a bit like poetic license. Then again, there could be a slew of people who liked the calculator so much as a kid that they became an accountant, or a administrative assistant that organized dad’s briefcase every day.

Me, I remember spending a lot of time copying and re-arranging art. Not drawing my own cartoons but carefully copying other people’s cartoons, re-arranging the characters and coloring them in. I also did a lot of work with “mix tapes” and creating elaborate tape booklets out of colored paper.

It’s a bit of a stretch but now I’m a professional Web programmer. I can’t create graphics worth a damn but a good bit of my job is taking other people’s art (graphic designers, not Google Images!) and re-arranging it to work on a Web page. It’s actually what I was hired to do. Often I’m literally “cutting” stuff in Photoshop and “gluing” it on a page using HTML, just like my colored paper creations.

So what about you? Did anything you enjoy doing as a kid translate into a career? No adult hobbies, please. When they write your biography, what will they shoehorn in there to show that you’ve always been interested in your field?

I’ve been fascinated with games and rules systems since I was a little kid. I’d buy a board game and literally spend hours by myself pouring over the rules just THINKING about how to play it. When I was 12 I discovered D&D and got involved with a gaming club. By the time I was in my 20’s I was designing my own board games for fun and playing them with my friends. In the 90’s I started designing professionally. Now I’m in my 40’s and I’m a senior game designer with Sony supervising several different PlayStation titles being developed at different studios.

I started training for my current job when I was 8 years old.

This is NOT me, but I used to have a co-worker who not only played nurse with her dolls, but actually tried to repair them in her “hospital”. She is an excellent critical care nurse today and has been for 20 years. Prior to that she worked telemetry, home health, med-surg and orthopedics.

I think we can say that she knew what she wanted to do at about age 4.

I have been interested in maps for a very long time. Even in first grade I played with the puzzle maps of the United States.

Now I work with digital road maps for my job.

I was into math ever since I was a kid, and now I’m a mathematician, so… that’s that.

<sigh> My memories of childhood involve wanting to be an archeologist, a teacher, maybe a writer. I must have done some mental blockage, though, because I recently found one of those pre-printed “scrapbook” type things that talks kids through making a scrapbook about different things about their lives (“Draw a picture of the largest mountain you’ve ever seen!”, that type of thing.)

There’s a section on what you want to be when you grow up, and I’d written “Computer programmer” in pretty much every space.

I was eight.

Guess what I do for a living?

When I was 4 or 5, pretty much all I cared about was ancient Egypt. It’s been a long, strange road since the time I was 5. Since then I picked up a few languages and enough mathematics to fake it.

So now I’m a political theorist: I use modern methods of analysis to understand ancient phenomena. Sure enough, one of my main substantive interest areas is still Egypt. I actually work on Roman & Byzantine Egypt, so I have long since forgotten almost everything I once might have known about the Pharaohs.

I was the organizer. Remember MS carnivals? Every year. Plays in the backyard. Craft sales from the garage with my friends.

I do project management.

I always wanted to be an archeologist - I was the only person who had [repeatedly] checked out Easy Lessons in Egyptian in 2 Volumes by E A Wallis Budge and started teaching myself egyptian at the age of 8. Way before it was fashionable to make a necklace in more or less alphabetical heiroglyphs I could transliterate around 250 heiroglyphs into letters or letter groupings, though I sucked at the terminal glyph modifiers. Startled museologists at the museum in Michegan that my aunt was working at as a secretary when I wandered around reading names in cartouches. I never followed up with it as a career as I did not see any way of making a real living at it as the age of ‘Indiana Jones’ and tomb raiding for fun and profit were well over.

I also have always loved looking at blueprints of buildings, designing homes and buildings for various purposes, and in fact designed and managed the construction of 4 machine shops for the company I used to work for. I never became an architect, as I was always busy working, or in a situation where I pretty much couldn’t afford to go back to college. I ended up studying a wierd mishmash of subjects as I had to work my education in around 2 jobs so I was sort of stuck picking classes by time slot.

Now, oddly enough I am getting the chance to use mrAru’s GI Bill to go back to school. I am out of work, and at this time gtting work is proving to be absurdly impossible. I can however manage to go to school because universities have been forced to get gimp accessible where businesses are more difficult to force into ADA compliance. [welcome to the real world]

So, I am currently trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. I am actually thinking of University of Arizona, as I really don’t want to deal with snow in a wheelchair, and they have a good reputation for accessibilty. Not to mention they have both anthropology [pretty much the best in the country] and architecture [again one of the best in the country]

I do know that I want to get some courses in copyediting in, as I think I can make a living as a free lance copy editor - if I am also an archeologist, even though I would have issues actually getting into a dig and grubbing around, I can work above the ground cleaning, conserving and documenting items at a dig, I can work on publishing [and copyediting for others on their publishings] and and back at home I can work on writing articles on various matters for publication in magazines [like cute little articles on historic Crete or whatever for travel magazines] and perhaps work as a fact checker/whatever for documentarians for the various pseudo History and educational channels. If I were an architect, I could design homes that are actually livable for handicapped people. Most architects work from ergonomic measurements and don’t actually have a lot of experience actually living in a wheelchair, or in a walker or on crutches. There is an amazing lack of bookshelves/space for shelving in homes today, and all too many architects jump on design bandwagons, I swear I surfed to a site to look at floor plans and 90% of the homes barely had any 90 degree angles, they were all curves and funky angles lopped off rooms and podged together like a tangram.

So … 2 possible educational paths … one a potentially profitable one, and one a mentally fulfilling one … and a chance at a new beginning [and for people pointing out that I am 48 and in a wheelchair 90%of the time … Louis Leakey was working digs in Africa in his 60s and still actively traveling and lecturing until his death at 72, and mrAru pointed out that I don’t need legs for underwater archeology and I happen to swim and am a qualified diver.]

[generically taking suggestions as to which direction I should go, though a possible 3d idea is psychology as I can safely practice from an office in my home]

I was fascinated by the dead animals decomposing on the side of the road (yup). Gore and guts didn’t bother me. I loved learning about animals. Biology fascinated me, botany bored me, and everything else was a mystery. My favorite color was also purple.

I’m a veterinarian, specializing in pathology. Yes, dead animals (with good lesions) still fascinate me, although I prefer looking at pretty purple and pink slides.

Not me. I was always good at math in school, but found it dull and boring. I discovered modern algebra in college and the scales fell from eyes. I have been doing it ever since, even in retirement, because I enjoy it so much. But it’s harder now.

I loved chemistry as a kid, had a chemistry set, read all about it, etc., but when I got to an actual lab, I was bored.

You really can’t work as a professor/professional excavator in the archaeology field without a PhD, which takes, on average 7-10* years to complete. If conservation is what you want to do, I would NOT enter a basic archaeology PhD program.

You should consider a terminal masters specifically in Archaeological Conservation (or architectural conservation). I worked for several Archaeological Conservation labs in college and seriously considered it as a long range career plan. Unlike in the professorship, there is not a glut of qualified people (for one, there are only a couple of schools that offer such a degree – consider UCLA). Most archaeology programs touch only lightly on conservation, and don’t really prepare you directly for a conservation career.

The best part of being a conservationist is - no grant writing! You’ll be a line item on someone else’s grant.

I was going to start a thread similar to this one, to ask people if what they do for a living now is what you’ve wanted to do ever since you were a child.

I had a boyhood friend who was into all kinds of sports. He said on more than one occasion that he wanted to be a school football coach. Today, last I heard, he was a coach in the athletic department of some collage in the south.

Not for me, though. Of the gazillion times I was asked in school what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was never able to give anyone a good answer. I just didn’t know. Now, in my mid fifties, I still don’t know. :confused:

But I’m not a deadbeat; I’ve had the same employer for 36 years. But it’s a job to me, not a career. You have to live somewhere, eat, and pay bills.

I like science. I like a lot of time off work. I teach HS science. No other career has as much vacation time- I’ll retire at 52 with a 65% pension with colas for life. I’m 49 now.

I was fascinated with electrical and what passed for electronic stuff when I was a kid and yup I got a degree in electrical engineering.

Designed instrumentation equipment for heavy equipment until I moved into management. Made more money as a chief engineer but enjoyed it a lot less.

As I was growing up, I enjoyed playing with tape recorders, listening to music, and playing music.
I have ended up as a professional musician, recording engineer, producer, and music teacher.
Years ago I was working producing motivational programs, and one author talked about how to figure out a path for yourself. He suggested remembering back to when you were 10-12 years old. What did you do when you didn’t HAVE to be doing something for someone else?

It’s what I did.

I liked to play doctor as a kid but went into a different line of work.

Heh, I’d almost forgotten about this, but my dad went on a business trip to England when I was ten and brought back a book called Stories from Shakespeare. It was the beginning of a lifelong obsession that eventually turned into a career as an English prof.

Nope,if I am going to sweat blood, it will be the whole 7-10 years [minus any assorted credits I can transfer over] piled higher and deeper degree. I have a husband that doesn’t care if I make a living at it, if all I do is go and work digs cleaning and documenting potsherds, collaborating on publications and everything undergrads do while working towards that PhD he is fine with it. I am only 48, the people in my family have a tendency to drop dead in their late 80s/early 90s doing something foolish [like my grandfather deciding to revarnish the deck on his sailboat at 92, though my great aunt Bessie waited until she was just over 100 to drop dead weeding a flower garden] so I have a few good years left, I just have arthritis giving me problems walking.

My interest isn’t conservation - it is in finding stuff out. Since being a nosy parker isn’t actually a degree program, archeology works! [and it is something I have been interested in since I found out what it was] And the way I feel about the LA basin, the odds of me going to UCLA for more than a weekend are about the same as Zahi Hawass letting letting me run the Cairo Museum. [Actually, sorry folks, but as far as I am concerned, they can nuke LA until it is glass and use it as a new parking lot for Disney Land]

We bless you all…

I currently have a 7yr old boy who has been obsessed with aircraft since he was 4 or 5. By now we get into discussions as to whether the 737 we just saw overhead was a 700 or an 800. He can tell a 777 from an A330 in three different ways (landing gear, wing shape, winglets) and discuss the relative advantages of the high candela vs. the rolling scissors in air combat manoeuvring. When asked what he wants to be when he grows us, re calmly replies that he wants to be a stunt pilot, with the same matter of fact certainty he says he’s in grade two…

The decade to come should be interesting…