With all the high school and college graduation ceremonies going on this month there are surely a lot of young folks thinking about careers. It's time to figure out what you want to do when you grow up.
I'm 64 years old and still haven't figured out what I want to do when I grow up. Shoot, I'm not sure I've grown up yet.
Since I was a youngster, I've had many career aspirations. Early on I wanted to be a cop. At one time I wanted to run a printing press. I also wanted to be a newspaper reporter. For a time as a teenager I considered going into the ministry.
The cop idea began when I was about 11 and an Iowa State Trooper (we called them highway patrolmen back then) moved to our block. When I rode my bike past his beautiful black tall-finned Dodge with a single cherry on top and a whip antenna on the back end I knew that's what I wanted to do when I grew up.
I dreamed about speeding down the highway with my red light flashing and siren screaming. No desperadoes would be safe when I was around.
I never totally lost my dream of being a cop, but being pulled over by one a few times as a teenager took the shine off the apple.
Somewhere around my sophomore year in high school I began thinking it would be fun to be a newspaper reporter. I read voraciously and dreamed of my own byline some day.
Being an unmotivated student and aware of my less than stellar grades, the dream of being a writer was a dim one. That was until Mrs. Riskedahl made my future her business.
Mrs. Riskedahl was my speech and drama coach and was also aware of my grades. One day late in my junior year she matter-of-factly asked, "Arvid, what do you intend to do when you graduate from high school?"
Frankly, I hadn't seriously thought that far ahead, but I hauled out my news reporter dream and shared it with her.
Well," she said, "I think you could be a great reporter. However, you need to get serious about your grades."
Then she made me an offer I couldn't refuse. "If you sign up for my college prep grammar class next year and promise do what I tell you to do, I will promise to have you ready for college level English classes."
I wasn't the brightest bulb in the string but that sounded like a good offer. The following year she held me to my promise and kept her end of the bargain. Almost on a daily basis I still recall rules of the language that Mrs. Riskedahl taught me.
Though my newspaper career was delayed by several years in radio, the day came when I had regular bylines in a daily newspaper thanks to Mrs. Riskedahl for the verbal kick in the butt.
All along I maintained an interest in law enforcement and joined the police reserve in Webster City. Unlike the Barney Fife posses in some communities the police reserve in Webster City was the real thing. After six months of training, I was issued a uniform and a service revolver.
Several months into the reserve duty I was asked to consider going full time on the force and I had to rethink my career goals.
Considering the physical prowess and agility needed to be a successful police officer I concluded that I was better designed to be a journalist rather than a slow moving target for bad guys. My time on the reserve, however, helped fulfill my desire to explore that career field. I have long felt it was one of the best things I ever did.
At one point during my newspaper career I signed up to sell life insurance. After completing half of the extensive "study while you keep your old job" training course I decided I enjoyed newspaper work too much to leave it.
With decades of media experience under my belt, I am now in the non-profit world and enjoying it even more than law enforcement and newspaper work.
Perhaps after I retire I can explore another vocation on a part time basis. I'm not committing to anything yet. There are too many things I want to do before I grow up.