"Get a real job!"

I don't blame well-intentioned adults for worrying about a child's desire to become internet famous. Just last weekend, my 9-year-old nephew let me know that he wants to be a famous YouTuber. He was serious. I believe him. The fact that he ended his statement with a dab makes me think he’s on the right track. But I am certain that whenever he tells other adults his plans, they kindly pat his head, smile and think to themselves, "Kid, you're gonna have to feed yourself somehow. Get a real job."

To be fair, I didn't know what I wanted to be once I grew up until I was...grown up. Even now, I've done things I had never considered as a kid. (Turkey farming, anyone?) But before we bemoan the ambitions of the rising generation and write them off as a failure, which they're not, I think there's a relatively easy solution: expose kids to individuals doing "real jobs." That's it. Nothing groundbreaking. Tyler Cowen shared similar advice when asked what he had consciously done as a parent to help his daughter build "tenacity and internal motivation":

Other than the platitudes, here’s what I recommend: expose your child in teen years to as many of your friends who might be possible role models. Like at some origin, they’re just not going to listen to you anymore. They’re not going to watch your behavior anymore. They know what you’re about. They’ve taken from that what they’re going to. Have them meet and spend time with some of your quality friends. Show them new role models. … Your influence is limited, for better or for worse.

Being exposed to "quality" individuals is one of the most important takeaways from my time at college. Of the courses I took as an undergraduate, I can only remember two: Entrepreneurial Marketing and the Entrepreneurship Lecture Series. I remember them because they exposed me to a variety of real (money-making) people with interesting (money-making) jobs. 

What would a similar class look like in elementary, middle and high school? Could this even be part of a school program? (It should be.) How do we expose kids and parents to the many paths that lead to satisfying, fulfilling, and successful careers? What role do parents and educators play in this process? Would this make non-traditional careers feel less risky? 

I don't have the answers to these questions, but with a sample size of 4 at home, I figure it's worth exploring.